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Daily Blog Archive

Find a better place for that 30-minute break

If you’ve seen some dumb behavior in the fuel lanes, don’t feel alone.

Scott Sargent has seen one particular scenario play out four times in the past month – a discourtesy shown by one trucker to his fellow truckers. And Scott is about done with it.

One example stands out in his mind. After arriving at a truck stop, he was checking for any openings where he could fuel up.

He found one, fueled up his truck, and then headed into the truck stop. On his way, he noticed another truck at the fuel islands.

“The driver was sitting in the pull-up lane eating a sandwich from the Subway,” Scott said.

Scott continued into the truck stop, had a cup of coffee, did a few other things, and then got his receipt. And that’s when he saw it.

“Came back to my truck, and the truck in the pull-up lane was still there,” he said.

Scott got into his truck, looked around at a few things, and updated his logbook. And there sat the sandwich eater, having still not moved.

“So I walked up to the driver, and he pointed at his ELD and said, ‘I can’t move for another seven minutes,’” Scott added. “He was taking his 30-minute break in the fuel lane.”

All of us wish that this was an isolated case, something that rarely happens. But judging from conversations I’ve had and phone calls I’ve received, it isn’t.

Obviously, most truckers don’t do this. Most fuel up and move on, take their break elsewhere, and are courteous to other folks behind the wheel. But this does happen, and it’s a darn shame that it does.

The 30-minute break rule is partly to blame. During listening sessions on the Hours of Service, one trucker after another asked FMCSA officials to give them flexibility, to allow them to occasionally stop the 14-hour clock.

When asked why, a number of truckers gave the example of pulling over for a quick break if they were tired, or to sit out rush hour in a large city. A never-stopping 14-hour strongly discouraged them from taking that break.

So in typical FMCSA fashion, they required the break and set up a confusing system regarding when it has to be taken. You know, because truckers need more confusion and silliness in their lives.

But that doesn’t excuse the trucker Scott Sargent saw that day, or any of the others I’ve heard about taking the break at the fuel island.

Scott didn’t take it lying down. Fairly irritated at the whole situation, he decided to take a picture of the truck, making sure his shot included the trucking company name, the truck number and the driver, inside eating his sandwich.

He followed that up with a call to the company to let them know “what a discourtesy this is to other drivers.”

To Scott, an OOIDA life member and longtime trucker, it’s pretty much common sense that you don’t take a break in the fuel lane. You find a parking space.

“Apparently,” Scott said, “common sense isn’t all that common.”

It would be hard to disagree.

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