Teamsters against HoS restart changes

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The accident involving a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. driver and comedian Tracy Morgan’s entourage has yet another industry organization weighing in about potential hours of service changes.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent an open letter to the US House of Representatives saying any steps to “delay, revise or replace the current hours of service 34-hour restart provision” or allow increases in truck size and weight, “especially they size of double trailers from the current 28-ft. to 33-ft.” should be opposed. In particular, the letter cites two potential floor amendments to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) FY’15 bill.

The two-page letter, signed by general president of the Teamsters, James B. Hoffa, emphasizes the union’s position that drivers are concerned with safety and adds, “truck driving is a very stressful job, especially with the congestion on our overburdened highway system. Drivers have to be especially alert these days as they have less time and distance to change lanes or stop quickly. It makes little sense, therefore, to shorten even more the time that truck drivers have to rest, recuperate , and get back on the road and to put them in bigger combination vehicles that require greater stopping distances, more difficult lane changes, and longer merging areas to get up to speed with traffic flow.”

The letter continues that most drivers “cherish our weekend, that 48-hour period that lets us relax and tend to personal business. But some motor carriers push their drivers to squeeze every possible hour out of them that they can—60 to 70 hours or more in a wee, depending on their operation—leaving a driver only 34 hours, 14 hours shy of a weekend to restart their clock and get back on the road for another 60 to 70 hours of driving time….Limiting the already short 34-hour restart provision to once every seven days (168 hours) is not unreasonable.”

The letter urges the House to allow the Department of Transportation to conduct a driver fatigue study based on eLog data.

Hoffa adds that allowing double trailer size to increase could “make matters worse”, saying “this undermines a current on-going Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, mandated by Congress…which is intended to examine the effects of bigger trucks on highway safety and on an already aging and deteriorating infrastructure system.”

He also accuses a size increase of pre-empting the efforts of the National Freight Advisory Committee to develop a 10-year National Freight Policy.

In a press release announcing the sending of the letter, Hoffa and the Teamsters address Wal-Mart’s safety record. According to the union, “this most recent fatal accident is the ninth for Wal-Mart’s trucking fleet in the last 24 months. This frequency has raised serious questions about how the retail giant—which has a reputation as a bad actor when it comes to worker treatment—enforces hours of service rules.”

In the announcement, Hoffa states, “The tragic accident that claimed the life of comedian James McNair and injured many others including actor Tracy Morgan, could have been prevented had Wal-Mart’s driver been properly rested rather than reportedly going 24 hours without a break.

“While the notoriety of the victims in this accident pushed truck safety to the front page, more than 4,000 lives are claimed each year on our highways as a result of accidents involving trailer trucks. We must ensure that hours of service rules provide enough rest for drivers so cumulative fatigue doesn’t put the driving public at risk.”

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  • Dear Mr. Hoffa:

    I had read your article regarding your situation with the Wal-Mart Inc. and how they had place the responsibly on your shoulders.

    I am a employee of a company where I have dealt with the similar situation and it all comes down to this.

    As an employee you have an right to refuse working over your time limit as it is a safety issue and violates the DOT, DOT log book regulations I know that dispatchers have that nice way of pushing you to keep going or say something like I got you covered. And they will not cover your back. They will cover there’s and you the driver are left holding the bag sort of speaking.

    In my situation I was on a dangerous icy road in NB Canada I had sent a message to dispatch that the road and the conditions were not the greatest and I suggested to dispatch for me to park the unit and wait for the weather to get better before proceeding. A message on there Qualcomm system was sent to me, I was told by my dispatch to get going and head towards the drop off. Being an employee I did as I was told to do. Later down the road I hit a patch of ice jack knife the truck and upon review 3 months later was terminated of my employment. I am involved in a Labour Dispute against the company I worked for as a Unjust Dismissal at the Labor Board now with an officer helping me fight this case.

    You Mr. Hoffa have the same right to fight this situation and with the DOT at your back door you could win it and show the companies this is not accepted. Further more I agree with a 48 hour restart that would give the driver be it he or she the rest period that they require with no pressure to be fully refreshed and available to go back to work.
    I wish you all the best and if you need further information please feel free to contact me.

    Gordon Moody

  • Drivers absolutely need their rest time. Some days I am so tired I do not remember the last town that I went through.
    It is a weird scary feeling, almost like sleep driving. You lose your sense of alertness. You cannot react as quickly etc. The drivers are being pushed to their limits. This must stop at once.

  • That’s why I work for myself. No boss no push. I got my load and I manage my time. No accident and headache. Every trucker should do the same.

  • If you need a 48 hour weekend, just take it. If your boss says you have to go, then quit. There are a lot of companies out there that will hire you.
    If I go to the west coast, I need a restart. 34 hours is already too much, thank you. I need a day off, I’m rested and I want to get back home.