Years ago I remember the excitement of hitting the open road. Trucking to me was the closest thing I’d been able to find to flying. We worked hard but also had freedom to control our lives out on the road. We (long haul truckers) had a life that may not have been conventional but it wasn't that bad. Then around 2004 some folks got together and decided it would be safer to up the sleeper birth time from eight hours to ten hours.
“That’s not such a bad idea. More sleep has to be safer. Right?"
Well yeah, O.k. except along with the Ten Hour Rule they added the Fourteen Hour Rule. The Fourteen Hour Rule or as I will call it the "FHR" is a stop watch that starts when you begin your day, and doesn't stop ticking for fourteen hours, when the FHR says your done driving, that's it, your done driving. I'm not sure why they invented the FHR but I'm guessing it's designed to make drivers keep their doors closed and the wheels turning. Hey, isn't keeping my wheels turning my job, not the federal governments job to enforce?
I'm going to try to give you an example of my life on the road with the FHR since my company put the new E-logs into my truck so that non drivers out there can have some perspective into what it can be like running under current regulations.
One Day in my Life Trucking:
So I go to bed at ten p.m. and sleep until Two A.m. I get up have a drink of water and go back to bed but, can't sleep. Some drivers (without E-logs in the truck) might just choose to "bend" their log book and try to get some driving done, but since I have an electronic log book in my truck and am such a conscientious follower of weird arbitrary rules designed by Lord knows who, (definitely not a trucker), I just lay there until eight a.m. Then I'm allowed to drive. Woo Hoo!!!! Time for work. Now the FTH is started. You remember the fourteen hour stop watch I told you about? I drive (tired) for two hours, then load for two hours, because car haulers load our own trucks this is on duty time, then drive one more hour, decide I'm too tired and pull into a rest area around one p.m. to catch a nap. Remember, the FTH keeps running even when you're sleeping once your workday has begun. So, I sleep for what seems like twenty minutes and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to roll. Only, holy crud it's five fourty five p.m. But at least I'm not tired, in fact for the first time all day i'm ready to rock and roll!!! I'm also hungry. So, I stop and grab a bite at the flying J. Now it's six fourty five p.m. and I'm rolling. Three hours and fifteen minutes later it's ten p.m., still wide awake and ready to be productive but the FTH says I'm done for the day. I pull into Ernies Truck Stop walk over to Shari's and spend the next four hours when I should be sleeping, wide awake bullshiting with anybody that will talk to me and the vicious cycle (with many different variations) is repeated.
My point is that I'm a human not a robot. I work in a constantly changing environment and in order to be safe and just as important sane, need the freedom to schedule my own life out here on the road. In my opinion, The Fourteen Hour Rule is arbitrary unneeded and can and does hinder me from making safe choices. If I have to sleep ten hours in 24 fine, but let me choose when and give me the right to break up that ten hours if needed without punishing me with the FHR. The fourteen hour stop watch needs to go away.
Am I wrong? Feel free to shoot me an E-mail.