Previously, I covered some of the problems truck drivers face, namely problems with drive time and problems with the new restart rule. Don’t worry, I know those are not the only issues truckers face, and I’ll work on getting some of the other problems up here too.
If you haven’t read the first two parts about the problems in the trucking industry, go do that now. I’ll wait.
Finished? Ok, good.
One of the largest problems trucker drivers face, other than the federal government trying to regulate things they are clueless about, is shippers and receivers making them wait.
As I said before, if the wheels aren’t turning, truck drivers aren’t making money. Whether they are an owner operator, as my husband is, or if they are a company driver getting paid by the mile, if the truck is idle, so is their pay!
But most drivers face lots and lots of wait time. As I write this, my hubby is waiting as patiently as possible and has been for almost 2 hours. They have to wait at the fuel pumps, wait at the weigh stations, wait for DOT roadside checks, and worst of all wait to get loaded or unloaded.
Now, they really can’t do anything about the wait time at the pumps, other than use a different station or pick a less busy time. And they can’t do anything about waiting at the weigh stations and DOT checks, cause that’s the government and you all know how slow THEY move.
But they shouldn’t have to wait hours upon hours to get loaded or unloaded. Especially, since most companies have all kinds of ridiculous rules if truckers get their late …and sometimes if they get their early!
My husband was told he was too early (by almost an hour) and that he’d have to wait on a very tiny side street off a very busy road in Philly for at least that hour. He was quick to tell them that if they wanted their load, they needed to get him at least in the parking lot or they could come down and pick it up themselves. They were quick to put him in a lot for the short wait.
Anyway, one of the largest problems truck drivers face is their wait time. They have to wait for their paperwork. They have to wait for a door. They have to wait for someone to load them. Or unload them.
And this wouldn’t be so bad if the wait time was minimal. But typical wait times can stretch on for hours. As in 5 or 6 hours. Yes, that’s typical.
Now, if you read my piece about the problem with drive time vs. work time, you know that if the wait time is less than 8 hours, the truck driver is basically screwed.
Here’s a quick example. Let’s say the load is where the driver is getting loaded for the first time. We’ll say he started his truck and had to drive an hour to where he had to get loaded. So, assuming he didn’t need fuel and it wasn’t winter, he could legally get there in about an hour and a half to two hours, counting his pre-trip and warm up time with the drive time.
Then he gets to sit and wait…and wait…and wait. We’ll say he had to wait 5 hours. That’s 7 of his 14 hour total day. And he hasn’t done anything yet! He hasn’t even left the dock!
And heaven forbid he had to pick up or drop off at multiple places…which is also typical for most drivers. So, if he got to repeat this at one other place, he’s done for the day…still sitting at the dock of the second place.
He hasn’t made a dime…unless he works for a company that pays total miles, which he’s made about $20 or so if he’s lucky.
And he gets to sit and wait for at least 8 hours, assuming he took 2 of those hours as sleeper berth somewhere along the line. If he didn’t, he has to wait 10 hours.
Before he can even make a dime!
But, the government is more worried that he rests for at least 2 nights between the hours of 1 and 5 am. Doesn’t matter if he’s used to being up at night and sleeping during the day to avoid traffic.
And the government doesn’t want him “tired”, so they regulate his every move. Cause leaving a professional to do their job just isn’t in the question.
Now, some trucking companies will charge their shippers/receivers for wait time…but that money isn’t always passed onto drivers. Heck, if a broker is used, that money isn’t always passed onto the company! (I won’t get started on brokers right now, that’s a-whole-nother ball of wax.) And if you’re a small business/owner-operator, well, you are SOL.
But if those companies were forced to pay drivers for their detention time, we’d probably see that wait time slashed in half… or more. If those companies had to adhere to their own appointment times, the trucks could actually get cruising down the highway, rolling and making money.
And you know what? Last February, the House of Representatives actually had a bill put forward to figure out what the problem with detention time is. And ya know what? It went to sub-committee last February and hasn’t re-surfaced.
But, boy oh boy, did they get those new HOS finished and ready for next July.
Oh and they are also super-duper busy allowing trucks from Mexico deliver in the US. Problem is, those trucks and drivers aren’t subject to the same standards as US drivers.
‘Cause truck rates are already SO high and there are so few truckers, we need more. Actually, we do need more, but only because the rates are so pathetic, people are taking their trucks off the road left and right. If rates were competitive and the regulations loosened, we would have plenty of actual trucking professionals.
Not just guys fresh out of school — most of which will leave the industry within the first few years.
The sad reality is, if the government doesn’t fix the fuel prices and loosen the standards (or make others accountable, not just the drivers) we will see fewer and fewer true truck professionals.