With the average number of miles driven per year by professional truck drivers, the dangers of living life on the road increases far beyond what the average motorist experiences. Averaging ten times more miles driven per year than the general motoring public, the professional trucker is by far, the safest driver on the road today. According to studies done by various unbiased groups, including the AAA, automobile drivers contribute more to fatal car-truck crashes than do the actions of truck drivers. Although every truck driving job requires the skill of a professional driver, there are those which come with a higher degree of danger.
Normally providing a higher pay rate, drivers involved within the petroleum carrier industry can often become like any other veteran driver with years of experience under their belts . . . relaxed, complacent . . . whatever you want to call it . . . this complacency can become a hidden danger for all truck drivers, especially those involved in the transportation of fuel and other hazardous material, and most often, with deadly results.
With all the stress placed on truck drivers, through over crowed highways, forced dispatch and an endless array of Federal Regulations, trucking companies and officials need to fully understand and realize the true importance of safety. Not just bureaucratic talk and pleasing self-interest groups, but understand that when additional pressures are placed on our men and women in trucking, additional consequences can occur, not only on our truckers, but the general public as well.
Professional drivers need the proper rest required by the human body and at the same time, they need to provide a living for themselves and their families. Veteran drivers have no problem running ten, eleven or even fourteen hours in a day . . . this is why they are professional drivers. As the FMCSA looks to further change the hours of service for truck drivers, they should maintain the 34 hour restart and provide more flexibility with the sleeper birth and the 14 hour provisions, as stated by the ATA. Furthermore, the American Trucking Association also states that rest periods should not be mandated, but the FMCSA should adopt an optional rest period that would not be counted toward the 14 hour rule.
If changing the hours of service rule for drivers, once again, the FMCSA could not take away from the current HOS rule, but add to it . . . those provisions that not only will provide additional safety factors towards drivers and the general public, but also maintain the ability for truckers to provide a living for themselves and their families. Professional truckers are up to the task in facing the lifestyle of a truck driver. They understand the importance of safety and are well prepared to abide by all regulations. The FMCSA should understand that there are ways to increase safety and still not interfere with a drivers’ means of support.
Accidents are largely caused by fatigued drivers who are not purposefully wanting to break any rules, but only working that much harder in the time allowed to bring in a decent pay check. Allow drivers to drive . . . provide for adequate resting periods, but do not take away what little they have in the current rules that keeps them rolling, but add additional safety measures that will increase their ability to earn a livable wage and still give them the rest they need to keep safety as a priority as well.
Life as a trucker has enough stress, worry and dangers involved, being constantly concerned with paying the bills and putting food on the table should not be one of them.
© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.