I love being self-employed. I get to stay home with my little munchkin man and work around his schedule. And the schedules of my other not so little munchkins. I don’t have to worry about a baby sitter or if I can get off if someone gets sick.
My husband is also self employed. Together, we can work our schedules pretty much as we want. We don’t have to worry about coordinating days off for vacation or who can get off if there’s a doctor’s appointment.
Problem is, with my husband’s business, there’s this group who likes to tell him what he can and cannot do in his business. For instance, my husband cannot work more than 8 hours without a mandatory break. Doesn’t matter if he worked through lunch, he has to take time off after 8 hours. Oh, and no matter what, he can’t work more than 14 hours in a day.
Perhaps these rules sound fair? I’d agree for most businesses. Except that my husband drives a truck. The rules they have implemented, and have tried for the last almost decade to “correct”, are set forth by a bunch of guys in suits that really are clueless when it comes to the problems the trucking industry faces.
Let me explain a bit for you, since I’m sure most of you really don’t understand how the hours of service rules work.
First there is a total work day allowed. My husband is allowed to work 14 hours total in any 24 hours period. That wouldn’t be so bad, right? Except, from the moment he starts his rig, he’s on duty. In the winter, by the time he has warmed his engine and fueled up, he’s down to 12 hours. I’m not kidding or exaggerating here. It takes about an hour each to warm up and fuel that truck.
Now, in addition to the 14 hour work day rules, he’s allowed to drive a total of 11 hours. But that’s part of the 14 hours, too. So, he has 11 hours of driving plus one more hour of work each day after warming and fueling his truck.
Still think it’s a pretty good deal? Not too bad, right?
Well, let’s look at a typical day. Hubby starts his truck, does his pre-trip inspection, drives to a fuel station (yes, this counts toward his 11 hours too), then heads to get a load. There, he could take an hour or more to get loaded. This is typical. So, just starting, fueling and loading his truck, he’s out of his “extra” work hours. Now, every hour he’s working but not driving, eats away at his drive time too.
Oh, and if he has to wait to get loaded, which could be 2-4 hours for a typical driver, his “clock” doesn’t stop! Even if he takes a nap in his sleeper berth.
So, let’s say he heads out to work at 6 am, starts his truck, does his pre-trip, heads over to get fuel and shows up to get his load around 8am. This is typical for him, because he loads less than 10 miles from us and gets fuel in between here and there. Now, let’s say he has to wait an hour to get loaded and getting loaded and signed out takes another hour, again, all a typical day for him.
It’s now around 10 am, he’s been on-duty for 4 hours, regardless of if he napped during the wait and loading, and drove for about fifteen minutes or so.
Now, because my hubby works really local (within the same 10 miles between here and where he gets loaded usually), I’m going to stretch his distance, which is more typical. Let’s say he has to drive 100 miles to get unloaded. That’s not bad, right? 100 miles? Except he has to log it as 2 hours, because he can’t legally drive over 50 miles an hour. Well, he can, he just can’t log it over 50-ish miles an hour. Even if he’s driving on an interstate where he can legally drive 60+ miles per hour.
So, assuming he hits no traffic, he’s now driven a bit over 2 hours today and has worked about 6 hours total (2 getting started, 2 getting loaded, 2 driving).
Now, let’s say this is only his first stop, again, typical for a driver. And he has to wait about 3 hours to get unloaded. After 3 hours, gets unloaded and heads another 50 miles or so to his next stop.
Adding in another hour to get to his second stop, he’s now at 3 hours or so driving time and a total of 10 hours work time. It’s about 4pm, according to our example. Let’s say he has to wait 2 more hours before he can finish being unloaded.
So, it’s 6pm in our example. He’s just got unloaded, been “working” for 12 hours and driven about 3 hours. He had plenty of time to nap, if he was tired, since he waited a total of six hours.
He heads back to his first stop to get the last of his loads unloaded, which for this example we’ll just say was about 100 miles away still. That means he’s driving 2 more hours, for a total driving time of 5 hours today.
But there’s a problem. If he drives the 2 hours to get unloaded at the first place, less than 10 miles from our house, he is now out of “time”. He literally cannot legally come home. Even if he’s just 10 miles from our house.
And if he has to wait to get unloaded… or if they actually unload him, he’s illegal because he’s out of time! Course he could write it in as sleeper berth time, but that just means he has to stay there, again 10 miles from our house, for 8 hours, assuming he’s logged at least 2 hours in as a sleeper berth time somewhere along the line. If not, he has to stay 10 hours.
I really, really wish I was lying or exaggerating. But I’m not. This is a sad reality for many, many truck drivers. And the federal government just keeps trying to “fix” the rules they have in place.
Problem is, they aren’t listening to the drivers. They hear all sorts of statistics and have all sorts of “professionals” tell them how tired truck drivers are which makes them unsafe. So, they make up all these insane rules that have all sorts of hoops drivers have to jump through.
Wanna hear something really nuts? If my husband starts his truck to move it to say, cut grass underneath of it or to wash the truck on his day off, he has to log that as “on-duty”. Doesn’t matter if he was in the truck less than a minute, he has to log it a minimum of 15 minutes on-duty.
These are the rules that are killing our literal driving force in America.
There’s more, but I’ve been long-winded. If you’re interested, or well, even if you aren’t, I’ll write up another post about some more crazy rules our drivers deal with. And they’ve put another “fix” in place, coming next July.