For years, truck drivers have said they were over-regulated and unfairly kept on strict schedules that hurt the safety and quality of life of the profession. Now, the Department of Transportation may be altering the trucking regulations currently in place. Has the voice of the common truck driver finally been heard?
If the DOT decides to overhaul the standard regulations, the drive limit of 11 hours and on-duty limit of 14 hours may be extended. Some cases may even allow these limits to be ignored. The mandatory break period enforced on truckers may also be reverted back to “when needed”.
Transportation Department – A New Review
Associated Press reports that the Transportation Department may be moving to relax drive time rules for truck drivers.
We’ve covered this debate for a long time, and the players are largely the same. The American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association want to see the rules relaxed, while safety advocates want to see the rules further enforced.
But what would new rules look like? For that,let’s look at the Transporting Livestock Across America Safety Act or the TLAASA.
What is the TLAASA?
Not all truckers are under the same regulations. For example, those hauling cattle are not required to use Electronic Logging Devices. In fact, as of June 4th, a bill was passed to extend their right to use paper logs until next year.
On May 1st, the Transporting Livestock Across America Safety Act (TLAASA) was reintroduced by Nebraska’s Senator, Ben Sasse (R). And this may provide a model for truck drivers across the country.
Here are a few key items listed in the TLAASA bill:
- Loading and unloading times would not count towards the driver’s HOS.
- Total hours would be extended to 18 hours from 14 hours.
- Drivers may rest at any time without punishment.
- Truckers can complete their run, regardless of hours logged, if they are within 150 miles of their destination.
- The Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device mandate would not go into effect for new drivers until after a trucker has traveled 300 miles.
Although these specialized rules are intended for cattle haulers, but a generalized bill, if accepted, would apply to all truckers.
If the TLAASA is Enacted
One of the big ticket items include in the TLAASA is the change to loading and unloading time. Not being punished for forced downtime would be a nice change of pace. While truckers still wouldn’t necessarily get paid for down time, this can relieve a lot of stress associated with detention.
Another nice perk is the ability to travel 150 miles to your destination. This could allow you to drive up to an extra 3 hours to ensure you make that delivery on-time.
That said, safety is still a major concern. When drivers push beyond their limits and don’t realize it, unfortunate events can occur. We should try to avoid this at all costs. And if we can collectively accomplish reducing semi-truck accidents, we’ll be able to enjoy more freedom on the road.