Our intrepid over-the-road trucker, John Hitchcock, called me a couple of weeks ago, complaining about just this. From The Wall Street Journal:
Truckers Tire of Government Sleep Rules
By Betsy Morris | Updated Nov. 13, 2013 9:30 p.m. ET
ON 1-10 BETWEEN EL-PASO AND LOS ANGELES— Manuel Hernandez is one of a vanishing breed: a professional long-haul trucker.
He loves backing an 18-wheeler into a tight spot. He has been patiently training new drivers for more than eight years.
Lately, though, Mr. Hernandez’s patience has been worn thin by a confusing tangle of rules, efficiency directives, and electronic devices that cap his speed, log his every move, and practically try to autopilot his truck.
Magnifying the stress are more federal rule changes that took effect in July and are now roiling the industry.
Under the revised rule, the average workweek has been shortened to 70 hours from 82. They must take one 30-minute break during the first eight hours of driving. And the required 34-hour break between workweeks now must extend over two nights, including the hours between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Those changes are proving more disruptive because they are added on to existing requirements that limit drivers to driving 11 hours a day and require them to rest a consecutive 10 hours.
More at the link.
Mr Hitchcock’s complaints were two-fold. First, even though he has a trainee driver with him, the truck has to be stopped for half an hour even while the resting driver is in the sleeper berth due to the rule which states that a thirty-minute break must be taken during the first eight hours of driving. Due to the ten hour rest rule, the driver in the sleeper berth cannot drive the truck at that point.
The second complaint is one with which I am in complete agreement, the requirement that the workweek break must extend over two night shifts, between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM. The rule assumes that long-haul truckers can really only sleep during the night, which is hardly the case, because many prefer to sleep during the day and haul at night, when there is less traffic on the roads. This rule means that more of the driving hours for long-haul truckers must occur during the day, during heavier traffic periods, which increases the probabilities of an accident, and slows down the flow of traffic. It’s just another example of government regulations concerning an industry being made by people who don’t understand the industry.
Mr Hitchcock doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to write anymore, and I’m uncertain how often he is able to check in with either The First Street Journal or his own site, Truth Before Dishonor, which is being (mostly) manned by DNW these days, so I’ll text him and let him know that this article is up.