OOIDA delivers dose of reality in Dallas listening session

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 1/22/2010

Rather than bog down in studies and statistics, as many groups tended to do at the Dallas listening session on HOS on Friday, OOIDA delivered the hard truth about life on the road as a trucker.

Listening session panelists and other attendees were peppered with a long line of questions from OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz – questions that truckers can answer yes to on a regular basis.

“How many of you put in 40 hours a week without getting paid?”

“How many of you are forced to perform physical labor for no pay?”

“Do you get fined by your employer for showing up late because you were unfortunate to get detained in traffic as a result of an accident?”

“Are you expected to ‘go off the clock’ to complete a task?”

“Do you have difficulty finding a place to get some shut-eye – in an environment where you’re expected to suffer extreme temperature shifts?”

“When was the last time you slept in your car in the middle of summer or winter with no heat or ability to cool thus impacting your ability to get truly restorative rest?”

Rajkovacz urged the panelists to see that simply setting limits on drive and work time, and not addressing the additional pressures that truckers face, will not improve anything.

“One cannot look simply at ‘on-duty-driving time’ and claim the task of driving alone is the lone ‘causal factor’ in driver-induced fatigue,” he told the panel. “That thinking ignores all of the other non-driving duties that are complicit in the total equation.”

Highlighting common industry practices of paying by the mile, not paying detention time, penalizing drivers who arrive late for a delivery, being forced to endure extreme temperatures while trying to sleep without idling in a truck with no other alternative, etc., Rajkovacz illustrated how all of these pressures put stress on a driver and even contribute to fatigue.

In a passionate defense of the 11th hour of driving, 34-hour restart and a need for more flexibility, he presented scenarios that showed a trucker can comply with hours of service and be fully rested. But the key is to allow for the flexibility and let the individual decide what is right for his or her own level of alertness.

The next listening session on hours of service will be Monday in Los Angeles. For more information on the listening sessions or how to comment, click here.

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