Recently when picking up our paperwork at a shipper I watched as a lady sorted through time cards and my first thought was “Am I glad I do not have to punch a time clock anymore!” then I thought I might not have a time card but I do have an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) with Hours of Service (HOS). Which do you think is more restrictive?

The time card at work was to make sure the workers were to work on time and did not leave early.  Time cards were also to be clocked when leaving for lunch and for coming back after lunch on time.  There were dire consequences for those that clocked in for someone else or punched out for a coworker.  The idea was to keep people at work and working for the time they were being paid. 

Hours of Service is to keep people from working too many hours and not getting enough rest! This was not bad enough there finally had to be a rule that within eight hours we HAVE to take a half hour break.  Keyword to me is have to take a break and we have to stop working to get ten hours of rest. What brings about this mindset that we have to be told to stop.

Why do we need HOS?  I think it goes way back in years to when drivers drove till they were too exhausted to drive anymore or they were pushed that hard from the companies they drove for.  In due time along came paper logs that were going to solve the problem and drivers started using more than one log book so they could continue to drive even more hours and make it look legal if checked.  Some of these drivers were very creative.  Why would anyone want to work until too exhausted to work anymore and then do it again as soon as they are able? My thoughts are it is about the money and as the saying goes “If the wheels are not turning I am not earning”.  There are also the drivers that are out here to earn money and they want to drive till tired, sleep eight hours, and do it all over again till they can go home.

When there is not enough pay per mile to make a decent living by not driving until exhaustion there is something wrong with the system.  Hence the driver shortage in the past as most people do not want to work until they are exhausted day in and day out to survive.  Now with the electronic log device (ELD), this is coming to light and there are even fewer drivers.  The perfect storm for those that are in the position to reap the rewards of not enough drivers and lots and lots of freight.  How will all of this level out?  Will companies have to step up the game and pay more for hours worked? 

Freightliner stepped up their game many years ago by creating a truck that is designed to drive for hours comfortably and when done driving have a comfortable place to sleep or take a break.  The trucks I learned to drive in while not a Freightliner were not exactly set up for driver comfort.   I find it very hard to step out of our Freightliner into our personal vehicle and enjoy the level of comfort and security we have in our truck.

We went from having to use a time clock at work to keep us working to having HOS to keep us from working too much.  What does the future hold for truck drivers?

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About Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda have been team drivers since 2005 as expediters. They are leased to Landstar Express America. Bob was a diesel mechanic for twenty years before doing over the road and Linda worked in the courthouse.

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