Jeff and Linda Halling, a husband/wife independent owner-operator team, recently made some comments on a facebook page about what they think needs to be done to make trucking safer:
While we totally agree with the dangers increasing with trucks putting even more regulations is not the answer. There are more rules and regulations in the trucking industry then there are in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Micromanaging every move never works. Here is the list of changes that we feel need to be made:
1) Better training for new entrants into the industry. Way too many of the mega carriers give their new drivers two weeks classroom one week driving and turn them loose on their own. Part of the problem is that the government classifies us as unskilled labor. Really!!?? A heavy equipment operator is considered skilled labor but a person driving at 80 thousand pound rig is not. Bullshit! By reclassifying Trucking as a skilled labor will increase training and better pay.
2) The hours of service have to be totally redone. One size does not fit all. 11 hours of driving and 70 hours in 8 days is more than enough. However the 14-hour rule is what causes the most safety problems. A driver starts working at 6 a.m. He goes to make his delivery and sits at the dock for 5 hours waiting to be unloaded. He gets paid nothing for that time. He then drives 45 minutes across town to make his pickup. He sits at that dock for 4 hours waiting to get loaded. He gets nothing for that time. The load he picks up goes 500 miles for delivery the next day. But he can only work for another 4 hours because his 14 hours are up. All the time that he spent at the dock was spent resting. But under the current rules he can only work four more hours before he is required to take a 10-hour break. The rule should be if you are in your sleeper for 4 hours or more you can extend the 14-hour clock.
3) There needs to be much more safe secure adequate parking for us to take a required rest period. A lot of drivers that fall asleep are not doing it because they’re pushing themselves to make a delivery they are doing it because they couldn’t find a place to park. All the electronic gadgetry in the world telling the driver to park does no good unless there is a place to park.
Those are the three main things that Linda and I see that will improve safety. We have also been a firm believer that the answer to this industry is not company drivers but independent owner-operators like us. Pride in ownership means a lot more than driving a truck for somebody that thinks you are nothing more than a number. Owner operators have much more flexibility in their pickups and deliveries than a company driver. They also have much more to lose if they mess up.
The bottom line is you’re right — changes need to be made — but the RIGHT changes need to be made.
Facebook post on which Jeff Halling was commenting: https://www.facebook.com/groups/494507530713925/permalink/682662138565129/
Let’s all get together and talk about how to make the roads safer.