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New York

Ms. Manners: The 8-Hour Rule


By: A. H. Bosley

First of all, for those who do not know, the 8-hour rule is a rule enforced by law where we, as professional drivers, must take a mandatory half-hour break at the end of the first 8 hours of going on duty. Not driving time but from when a driver first goes on duty. Before the first 8 hours is up, the driver must take this 30-minute break. Then again if needed before the next eight hours of going back on duty. As the clock starts over from when a driver comes back on duty, and we are allowed to work within a 14-hour clock of coming on and off duty as scheduling occurs.

This rule, in my opinion is an unnecessary restraint on drivers.

I think that BEFORE they placed such a restraint on drivers they should have first recognized the need for parking for these breaks.

– I mean we have to park somewhere, right?

As it is, there is insufficient parking as a whole throughout the country, especially in the east; New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts – all the way down to South Florida – and then again on the west coast in California, Oregon, and Washington state. They have all but zero parking for trucks, including the weigh stations. Weigh stations shouldn’t ever be blocked off. They should always be safe havens for trucks as the they are one of the enforcers of said rules. For nighttime drivers (anytime from 3:00 PM until 5:00 PM) parking is limited to on-ramps, weigh stations, and of course – the fuel island.

In my opinion, fuel islands should not be an option. It hinders other drivers from getting fuel and the business-side of a truck stops of turning a profit. We all know those who do it. The drivers pulling doubles and triples have no choice. As we all know, they can’t back up like a single, and then there are the drivers who do it routinely. The rule itself puts one more time limit on a driver.

A driver should be able to tell whether he/she is tired. I believe it makes a driver tired to stop and have nothing to do for a half-hour. During the day, no problem, we can take a walk, get some exercise, get a bite to eat, take a shower, do some shopping, or wash the truck. But at night, not so much. As all the parking is taken in the truck stops & rest areas, usually by 4:00 PM. This leaves little to do.

I know that there are drivers who have fallen asleep – but the eight hour rule won’t stop these people.

If a driver is tired he or she should pull over “somewhere” and take a nap. It is the only thing that cures a sleepy driver, professional or non. Why aren’t these restraints placed on those who are not professionals? If you need to be told you are tired then maybe driving a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds or more is not for you.

I get in a zone when I’m driving and making me stop just hinders me. Take the time YOU need. Make the companies more responsible by giving us the proper about of time to get our load from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. Please be safe out there and for heaven sake, don’t drive tired. If your eyes close one time it is once too often. Pull that rig over, and take a nap. No load is worth your life – or mine.

If you’re a company driver and you get slack from your dispatcher, call your safety department. They will stand behind you. Don’t let a dispatcher bully you into continuing. No means NO! As a driver, YOU are ultimately the final say and are the one responsible for the load that truck and your actions. Ask dispatch to transfer you over to safety and they will sing a different tune immediately. All they care about is making that load but it doesn’t do the consignee any good if the load NEVER arrives. We also go to work for family not in spite of them. What would they do without you?

Trucking is not just a profession, it’s a way of life.


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