Over time, we have had one call after another confirming that point.
Yet, over and over and over, a number of groups in this industry – from people at the FMCSA, carriers, supporters of EOBRs and more – insist on talking only about driving time.
If you want yet more confirmation that the loading dock is where the problem lies, and that the folks regulating you don’t get it, try this on for size.
A trucker – leaving only her first name, Lori – called us about a delivery to a federal facility.
She had an appointment, even arrived a half hour early. Yet it was 9 hours – count ’em, 9 – before she was able to leave.
Of course, her 14-hour clock was entirely run out. Technically, she could not move the truck one inch. So to seek guidance, she called one of the FMCSA’s field offices.
The advice she received just about kicked me in the head like a Missouri mule.
The FMCSA official said it was no one’s responsibility that she was held up so long. However, and he made this clear, under no circumstances should she move the truck.
That’s easy to say for a desk jockey, and a hell of a lot harder for a trucker. I’ve heard from others in similar situations told by shippers or receivers to leave the dock and the lot, or face arrest.
Lori says that before the FMCSA beats up on drivers, they should look in their own backyard. I agree – especially if a federal facility is doing this.
They also need to look at the people they’re hiring if they think that’s the kind of answer they should give a trucker in her situation.
This situation hits a whole range of issues we deal with here at OOIDA, and that truckers deal with very, very directly on the road every day.
Lori had to wait, legally required to stay on duty, not driving in her log, but was not paid for one minute of that time, as any other American worker in any other job would be.
The wait time robbed her – literally, as far as I’m concerned – of time she could have spent earning money.
It put her in a terrible situation, especially for someone who has no logbook violations on her record.
How was she supposed to drive to a proper and safe resting place with no time left on her 14 hour clock? Have these people never heard of Jason Rivenburg?
But this situation also touches on other issues not even present. One example is EOBRs.
I don’t know if Lori was using one or not, and I need to make that clear.
But in her situation, an EOBR would have had no way to tell, as she waited, whether she was loading, unloading, on duty, off duty, in the sleeper berth, or even in the truck.
It could only say that her truck was not moving.
EOBR supporters say over and over that the devices can stop cheating, that they can ensure compliance.
Lori’s situation proves that to be pure, unadulterated bull.
When you are waiting to load or unload, or in attendance as the truck is being loaded or unloaded, the regs require you to be on duty, not driving. They require the 14-hour clock to keep ticking.
Yet, if she were of a mind to, or if she were pressured into it, she could have marked the time she was waiting as split sleeper berth time, counting that as her 8 hours. She then you could have driven somewhere, waited 2 more hours, and then gone on to another load.
The EOBR would mark all of that down as perfectly OK, despite it being a direct violation of the hours of service.
Lori did everything in her power to be compliant and to follow the rules.
Look at what they gave her.
This agency thinks people like Lori need EOBRs. I think the agency – and Congress – need to hold folks who are responsible for your situation LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE.
Until they do that, nothing they do will truly end this issue. If they think otherwise, they are fooling themselves.