August 15, 2007 8:20 AM, EDT

Letters to the Editor: Cross-Border Issues, Hours of Service

These Letters to the Editor appear the Aug. 13 print edition of Transport Topics.
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Cross-Border Issues

I was hoping to see some relaxation in the cross-border commercial traffic fiasco. Once again, this is on hold until the next attempt — probably during the next administration.

I was under the impression the United States was part of NAFTA and relaxed cross-border trade was part of that agreement. Obviously, the lobbyists have won yet again with more scaremongering.

The simple solution is to follow the example set by the European Economic Community and en-force commercial safety inspections on truck traffic currently on the statute books. Then you won’t have those “unsafe Mexican trucks” entering the U.S. outside the current “safety zone.” I think there are plenty of unsafe U.S. and Canadian trucks to keep inspectors gainfully employed.

What a red herring.

Dennis Williams
Linden Engineering Inc.
Golden, Colo.

Hours of Service

To whom it may concern: I am an over-the-road driver who already didn’t like the hours-of-service rules. I would say this reversal of rules is a step in the wrong direction.

Because of the split rules now, I have to go through big cities at rush hour, putting me at more risk of being involved with the autos in an accident that, no matter what, I would be found at fault.

It would be logical to take a five- or six-hour break and go through after hours, but wait — that would make sense, and I also have an onboard recorder to make sure the option is not open to me anyway.

I run a route making drops all week long. I usually stop at about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., because of businesses being closed, and usually start around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., because that’s when they reopen.

I believe that’s about 12 hours, or sometimes even more, depending on customers’ hours. Then, because of the 14- or even 70-hour rules, I’m supposed to stop for 34 hours to get my rest eight hours from where I live instead of getting home to rest and spend time with my family.

These lawmakers and judges need to have a recorder attached to them, so when their 11, 14 or 70 hours are up, they would have to stop right where they are and spend 10 to 34 hours away from their homes and families.

And for the record, even with the recorder in my truck, when I get tired, I stop and take a short rest break, because after 20 years, I know when the time comes to rest and don’t need to be told by the government or a computer that I am tired.

Milton Chapman
Over-the-Road Driver
Croft Metals
Byram, Miss.

Let’s leave the hours of service as is. It is working well for us and most other companies, I think, although maybe not the big guys. I would be willing to give up the 11-hour driving time to be able to keep the 34-hour restart.

Jerry Howard
Fleet Safety Manager
Dahlonega Transport Inc.
Dahlonega, Ga.

Welcome to the world of make-believe.

Before the latest news from Washington, D.C., the trucking industry took what the boys at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration threw out to us as the “new and improved” hours-of-service regs in ’05 and made it work. Those drivers of old (pre-2005) made the “10/15 and eight” rule work and made a fairly decent living.

After adjusting to the “11/14 and 10 rule,” living standards went up. Why? Be-cause the driver was not held back from what he/she did the week before, thanks to the new 34-hour restart.

Can anyone tell me why the three panel judges thought the 34-hour restart was a bad thing for drivers? Why is it so important to keep commercial-motor-vehicle drivers under 70 hours in an eight-day period? Why should what I did last week influence what I can do this week?

If I work hard and bump 70 hours in an eight-day period, I take a full day, plus 10 more hours. I still can’t do anything until after 12 a.m. [midnight], because I had no time falling off. Now I feel the air going out of my income, due to lost productivity.

Does anyone who goes to a megastore to shop want to know why the shelves are bare? It’s because the truck bringing those goods has been shut down for 48 hours to recoup hours from the week before. As you go hungry, send thanks to the boys in D.C.

One last rant: Can someone please explain to me, and the rest of the drivers out in the real world, why the person who needs to manage his or her time the most — the driver — can’t do that, because someone else thinks they know what the driver needs?

Todd Slingerland
Safety Manager
Putnam Trucking Operations Company Inc.
Effingham, Ill.

I have been in this industry for more than 35 years. I’ve taught student truck drivers for four and a half years. I’ve hauled meat and produce from coast to coast. I was inducted into radio host Bill Mack’s Million Mile Club and I’m a member of Pennsylvania’s Pike Watch. So, I consider myself knowledgeable in the industry as far as safety and driver fatigue.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen more drivers falling asleep at the wheel, driving into the median or off the edge of the road, and overextending themselves by running harder and trying to stay within the HOS than I saw in the prior system.

The new set of rules is not working. Why? Because they are written by persons who do not live what they are trying to regulate.

My answer is use the old rules but enforce the laws we have on the books. The 11-hour rule and the 34-hour restart are being used to drive the few good drivers this country has into the ground — and there are very few new drivers wanting to take their place. It will not take long for the industry to be depleted of drivers. These drivers have committed their lives to this industry; let’s try not to kill them off.

Dean Ferrell
Road Driver
Yellow Transportation
Stuarts Draft, Va.