Time to talk about time

July 27, 2007
"Originality is a valuable element in human affairs. There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are truths no longer, but also commence new practices." --John Stuart Mill What Mill -- ...

"Originality is a valuable element in human affairs. There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are truths no longer, but also commence new practices." --John Stuart Mill

What Mill -- the great British philospher, economist and politician -- espoused in the 19th century remains true today. We need originality in all our endeavors in order to keep our world moving in the right direction. This holds true in cultural, social, moral, and well as business circles, but particularly for trucking in this country, as we are faced with an enormous variety of challenges, not the least of them dealing with the now-negated hours of service (HOS) rules.

First off -- and this is solely my opinion here -- I think the whole concept of HOS is pretty ridiculous, from the standpoint that no one set of rules can possibly meet the needs not only of the thousands of different trucking operations here in the U.S., but of the human sleep cycle as well. As one univeristy professor told me back when the current (now thrown out) 11 hour drive time-14 hour on-duty time-10 hour off-duty time rules we're put in place, "You simply can't mandate rest and sleep, much less GOOD rest and sleep."

I myself suffer from chronic insomnia, which means that sometimes -- despite having a perfect 10-hour window to get sufficient sleep -- I only get one or maybe two hours. And I can tell you from personal experience fucntioning on that small amount of sleep is a HUGE struggle.

Here's another problem with HOS that get ignored: NO ONE wants to work 14 hours at a stretch, much less the 15 hours mandated under the old rules. NO ONE. I work 14 hours days when I must (at truck shows, ride and drive events, etc.) but that's not a MANDATED schedule I face every day. Let's face it: one of the huge problems we have in this country convincing people to become truck drivers is the workday schedule they face right from the get go. Now, there are times when freight's gotta get there -- especially in times of national emergencies -- requiring long work hours. But every day? People take one look at that and say 'forget it.'

Now, I'm not saying HOS rules aren't necessary -- they are. You need HOS to keep people safe, to prevent folks from driving for 36 hours straight and other craziness. But's there got to be a way to do it so the workday isn't a crushing burden. Heck, even shift work is 12 hours -- a full two LESS than a trucker's schedule. Most people work 8 hour days across the business world -- that's the norm -- making a 14- or 15-hour schedule look even more extreme.

Sure, there's plenty of people working far longer hours, but 'workaholism' is more and more frowned upon in our country -- and rightly so. We are coming to recognize -- through scientific studies as well as from our pwn experience -- that working huge hours takes time away from family and severely impacts physical health.

So with the current HOS rules invalidated by the courts, it's time to bring originality to the table. We have all these sophisticated freight tracking, routing, and planning systems out there, so we need to find a way to move everything within much saner work hours -- ones that will make truck driving a more attractive job as well as one that's easier on the human body.

There's more than enough brain power in this industry to find a way to do it -- among drivers and executives alike, I might add -- so all we need to do is start working on possible solutions. It wont' be easy, that's for sure, but it's not impossible -- not by a long shot.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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