New federal regulations cut down on the number of hours truck drivers can spend on the road. The rules are meant to increase safety, but a couple of area trucking companies and their drivers are concerned.
The new law, put into place on July 1st by the US Department of Transportation reduces the maximum work week to 70 hours, down from 82. This comes out to a maximum of 14 hours of work each day, 11 of which can be spent driving. Drivers who reach the maximum are required to rest for 34 consecutive hours, which must include two nights between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. Also included in the new law, drivers must take a half hour break after the first 8 hours of work.
The goal of the program is to prevent driver fatigue, and reduce trucking accidents.
Zach Meiborg, Owner and Operations manager of Meiborg Trucking company says, "We have no interest in over dispatching our drivers. We have a safe and compliant company but we feel that the regulations are over burdensome in our industry. "
Meiborg adds, the changes will be bad for business. "I anticipate each of our trucks to probably lose about 12 hours of productivity per week."
He already sees his drivers frustrated by the regulations. "We have a driver oh his way back from Jacksonville, Florida, to Rockford, Illinois. He will run out of hours at Bloomington, Illinois. The law indicates that truck will have to stop in Bloomington. Where is the driver going to get better sleep? At home in bed with his wife? Or on the road sitting in Bloomington recapturing his hours?"
Jeff Wilmarth, President of Silver Arrow, another local trucking company, says these changes effect his business similarly. "We'll probably have to add 5 to 8 % more equipment, more drivers," he predicts.
Wilmarth explains, these additional trucks on the roads will service the same number of clients, passing the cost of doing business on to the consumer.
Trucking companies could face severe fines up to $11,000 if they allow their drivers to exceed the new limits. The drivers themselves could be fined too, nearly $3,000.
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