The mid-1970’s was the absolute goofiest time for music. Long-haul trucking was sensationalized by movies such as White Line Fever, Breaker Breaker, Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit. Jerry Reed’s lyrics are seared into my brain as my Dad, although not a trucker, drove a pickup truck and had a CB radio like everyone else. Of course, he had his own “handle.” I don’t remember what his handle name was, but it was probably “crabby daddy” or “short fuse” if I would have been asked to suggest one that suited him. As for real truckers (not wannabe’s like my dad), long-haul trucking meant days with no sleep. Getting your merchandise to its destination early yielded a sweet bonus. Now, with new safety regulations in place since 2013, tag-team driving with a partner or spouse seems to be the norm.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced in 2011 that new federal regulations designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue were to go in to effect in 2013. The final ruling as to hours-of-service are as follows:
• Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours;
• Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1-5 a.m., and;
• Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.
Although those movies of the 70’s glamorize trucking, it must be a very hard lifestyle. If you are one of those rare human beings who “likes” to drive, this may be an ideal career move for you. As for me, driving in traffic changes my outlook on life. I become a different person, altogether. You can’t help but notice that most drivers don’t allow trucks to merge and just love to perform risky maneuvers behind, beside and in front of trucks. Even with no trailer and multiple brakes, it still takes a truck nine times longer to stop than it does for a car to stop. So, if you’re in the habit of whipping in front of a big rig, your Honda Accord could be transformed into a Honda Accordion.
Sadly, respect for truckers seems to have died with Jerry Reed. Please show respect for those big rigs that you are sharing the road with. And give those truckers the courtesy they deserve. Put yourself in their shoes. And just be thankful that your sale items at Wal-Mart are all in stock because someone painstakingly hauled them there.
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Long-Haul Trucking – Comedy Defensive Driving