There has been a lot of noise lately about the right formula for truck drivers’ hours of service. The pretence is that there is concern about safety on the highways.
The reality is that it is not only the truck drivers who are making the highways unsafe.
As a professional driver, I see people in cars talking on cell phones, reading files, reading the newspaper, looking in the back seat at the kids, eating lunch, even fondling the opposite sex while operating a motor vehicle.
Besides this, there are many who got their licences 30 or more years ago when traffic was comparatively light by today’s standards.
These people often do not know how to use a freeway properly.
Compare them to your average truck driver, who had to get a normal driver’s licence before the commercial driving licence, and then had to take further training from the company which hired them.
Traffic rules have a unique impact on the commercial driver because they directly impact his or her earning potential.
Add to this the fact that he/she also abides by special rules.
In many states trucks are restricted to a slower speed limit making them into rolling obstructions for every other driver to go around. This increases frustration for the non-commercial driving public and creates road rage situations.
And now the trucker must also deal with hours of service rules and other rules or regulations, which again impact earning potential.
Example – a driver making $0.36 per mile can only earn $19.80 per hour if he/she stays within the 55-mph limit set for trucks in most states.
If allowed to drive at 65 mph, like the cars around him/her, the earning potential would be $23.40 per hour.
Where is his/her incentive to slow down?
The hours of service are antiquated without a doubt.
But so are the freight rates.
These need to change even more than the hours of service rules.
If a driver could make a good living driving at slower speeds and fewer hours what do you think he/she might do?
If we really want safer highways what we need to do is force every driver to do a road test every time their licence is up for renewal.
But most voters out there won’t vote for a politician who makes this a platform plank for an election. So, what’s going to change?
To make truck drivers drive more safely, we need to give them a raise in pay so that they won’t have to push themselves to exhaustion just to be able to buy groceries for the kids at home.
A reminder to all who share the roadways, remember please, that these drivers are fathers and husbands, mothers and wives all trying to earn a living just like everyone else.
They are not monsters out to tear up the highways.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News