Do Not Disturb – How the New HOS Regs Fail

by Andrew R. Young | September 1st, 2013

Blame the unregulated for keeping the safe trucker tired. The safe trucker combats fatigue and owns up to the responsibility of developing a systematic sleep regimen allowing for quality rest. Sadly, those not regulated by the new July 1, 2013 Hours-of-Service (HOS) requirements disrespect the safe trucker’s attempt to stay well-rested. It is too bad the safe trucker does not have the “Do Not Disturb” option.

The Safe Truck Driver Gets No Respect

If you follow truck drivers on twitter, it becomes obvious that the new HOS regulatory requirements will fail to stop fatigued driving. Those not regulated by the new HOS requirements contribute greatly to our tired highways. The following are several tweets from tired truckers:

– “Receiver woke me up at 04:00 said they could unload early instead of 07:00. I was sound asleep. Oh well.”

– “Been waiting for 3hrs here in a door slowly getting loaded. Totally screws my Elogs.”

– “I’ve unloaded 44,000 lbs of boxed meat in 2 hours, it’s taken these morons 4 ½ hours so far to load 13,000 lbs of shoes.”

– “Waiting 4 hours for a door assignment. What a #@%& joke. Migrant farm workers get more done n a day than these incompetent @#$%!”

– “Made it safe and sound to shipper. Now to wait until they open at 7 am. Well, they are open but only ship 7am-1:30pm.

– “I lucked out. There is a rest area here at the same exit as my customer with plenty of parking tonight! Yee haw! ;-) ”

– “It’s one thing to pullover when your tired but the lack of safe truck pullover spots is sadly lacking.”

– “I really hate me some lot lizards right about now. 3 am and pounding on my door… Over and over!”

– “Some nights you wonder why you’re the blame when you try so hard.”

– “Slept for 8 hours. First time in about 2 weeks. Did the world end & I didn’t know it?”

Given the opportunity, a safe trucker will get a good night’s sleep. Safe truck drivers work hard to stay well-rested and within compliance of stringent HOS regulations. All of this hard work does not manage to discourage others from disturbing the sleeping trucker and further disrupting their regimented sleep schedules.

Proposed New Rules For The Unregulated

1) Loading and unloading must be accomplished within two (2) hours of the trucker’s scheduled arrival.

2) Shippers and receivers must allow for safe overnight parking.

3) Or, in the alternative, shippers and receivers must identify nearby safe overnight parking options.

4) If overnight parking is provided, do not wake the sleeping trucker until the scheduled loading and unloading time.

5) Increase penalties on truck parking lot owners who conspire to profit off of prostitutes.

6) Taxpayers must become aware of the need for more safe truck parking to keep our highways fatigue free.

Detention Time Cuts Into Sleep Time

The shippers and receivers are the worst abusers of a trucker’s time. An hour or two of excessive detention time can seriously throw off not only “on duty” HOS requirements, but also a trucker’s fatigue management routine. Shippers and receivers need to be either regulated or at least educated about the dangers of disrupting schedules. If the shippers and receivers aid and abet in HOS regulatory violations, then shippers and receivers should also be fined if the source of the HOS violation is the shipper’s or receiver’s detention abuses. Will Congress and the regulators wake up to the fact that these unregulated entities contribute to the plight of the tired trucker?

A conscientious load planner takes into consideration HOS requirements and schedules to conform with speed limits. A load planner can adequately prepare for excessive detention time too. Typically, the detention time offenders are repeat offenders. Their abuse needs to be called out by motor carriers and brokers. GPS data can provide hard evidence of a shipper’s or receiver’s patterns of detention time abuses. Motor carriers, brokers, and load planners, need to step-in on behalf of their drivers and renegotiate better contract rates to account for repeat, excessive detention violations. Those who negotiate the contracts know who the abusers are and need to hold them accountable and responsible so that a trucker is paid for his or her wasted time. Not only compensate for the excessive time, but notify the trucker of the likelihood of excessive detention/retention time at the customer’s facility so that the trucker can adjust his or her sleep schedule accordingly. Safe driver retention rates will increase if the motor carrier is actively stopping excessive detention time abuses by its customers.

Is Overnight Parking Provided?

Load contracts should have a provision requiring a shipper or receiver to provide for safe overnight parking. The shippers and receivers should then respect the driver’s sleep schedule and not wake the driver until the scheduled loading / unloading time. Too often, a shipper or receiver wakes up the trucker ahead of schedule disrupting a safe trucker’s sleep routine.

Nowhere to park? Know where to park. If overnight parking is not provided, then the contract should require the shipper and receiver to identify the safest nearby parking alternative. Most in the trucking industry are aware of “Jason’s Law” and the story of Jason Rivenburg. Trucker Jason Rivenburg was murdered, leaving behind a family, after he was forced to park in an abandoned gas station twelve (12) miles from a shipper who did not allow for overnight parking. Follow @JasonsLaw on twitter for the latest updates on “pushing for safer rest areas for the backbone of our Nation, Truck Drivers.” As voting citizens and taxpayers, we need to ask our legislators to make sure that adequate and safe rest areas remain viable as part of our transportation budget. The safety of our roadways depends on providing plenty of opportunities for our truck drivers to safely sleep.

No Lot Lizards

In the trucking industry, “Lot Lizard” is the derogatory term for prostitute. Stiffer criminal penalties should be passed to penalize truck parking lot owners who conspire with and allow prostitutes on their property. People may snicker and think that this is not an actual problem. As indicated in the above-referenced tweets, prostitutes often disturb a sleeping truck driver by knocking on his door. This YouTube video entitled “Asphalt Reptile” further illustrates this problem. Recently, I purchased a sticker at a truck stop that says, “No Lot Lizards.” This sticker can be strategically placed on the door of a truck to ensure no sleep disturbance from an unwelcomed solicitor.

Do Not Disturb The Sleeping Truck Driver

We have seen public awareness campaigns about “Sharing The Road With Large Trucks” and “Leave More Space.” How about a public awareness campaign that says, “Do Not Disturb The Sleeping Trucker” or “Respect The Trucker’s Time” so that he or she can trip plan to ensure a good night’s sleep. It is time for the unregulated to be held accountable for pushing truck drivers beyond HOS requirements and disrupting their sleep regimen.