Truck Driver: ‘Overregulation’ Means Government Literally Deciding When I Work, Eat, And Sleep
I never thought I’d come to a time in my life when “Big Brother” would be watching me 24/7. But then I became a truck driver.
Every minute of every day is monitored by Uncle Sam, who takes care that I can never make a decision for myself based on my circumstances. Because let’s face it, I just can’t take on that kind of responsibility. There’s no way I can decide for myself when I’m going to sleep or rest or drive. After all, I’m just a stupid truck driver. What would I know about such things?
Unless you own a business, when you hear pundits and politicians drone on about “overregulation,” the notion probably goes in one ear and out the other. But being a truck driver is similar to owning your own business. So next time you hear your Senator or your favorite radio show host decry government regulation and oversight, let me give you an idea of what “overregulation” looks like on the ground.
For Truckers, Life Is About Fighting The Clocks
For starters, let’s talk “logs” and “hours of service.” While you’re only fighting one clock on your morning commute, a truck driver is fighting five clocks. Like you, he’s fighting real time. You have to be at work by 9:00 a.m., and he has a 9 o’clock appointment at the local distribution center. It’s 8:45 and I-40 is a parking lot. In addition to this, he has four other clocks to worry about: the “eight-hour break” clock, his “14-hour on-duty, not driving” clock, the “11-hour on-duty, driving” clock, and the “70-hour weekly on-duty” clock. For simplicity, I will call each of these the “eight,” the “14,” the “11,” and the “70.”
Now I’ll explain what’s known in the transportation industry as the “Hours of Service” regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA) requires drivers to log everything they do, where they did it, the duration of the task, and when the specific tasks were done. The biggest principle to keep in mind is that when any one of the “clocks” runs out, you can no longer drive legally. Once you start the clock by going on-duty, you have eight hours before you must stop driving and take a 30-minute break.
Also, once you start your clock, you have now started a nonstop 14-hour window in which you must get all the driving done you need to for that day. If you get stuck at a shipper for three hours, you now have only 10 hours to drive. Which brings us to your “11”: In any given 14-hour on-duty period, you are only allowed to drive legally for 11 hours within that 14-hour period. In addition, in any eight-day period, you are only allowed to be on-duty (not driving and driving) for a total of 70 hours. Hence, your “70.” (This week, I made it back home with only one hour on my 70… I was cutting it close.)
Clear as mud? Basically, as I said in the outset, the FMCA (that is, Uncle Sam/ Big Brother) not only wants to know when I’m sleeping, resting, and driving—it tells me when I can sleep, rest, and drive.