Truck drivers will have to rest more beginning Sunday

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

There are major federal regulations changes coming to the trucking industry, beginning tomorrow.

These changes deal with how many hours truck drivers can drive within a day and may severely hurt the drivers’ incomes, increase shipping costs for businesses, and may lead to faster driving from truckers trying to reach their destinations.

Safety Director for Suttles Trucking Jem Blair agrees that these new changes will indeed affect his company and in a big way. "These changes will greatly affect the way we do business." he said.

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These are the first changes in the hours of service rule ever and these rules have been in place since 1939. The main change deals with 18-wheeler drivers. They now have to rest a required 10 hours a day as apposed to eight hours a day with the old regulation.

With the old rule in place, truckers felt rushed because whenever they stopped to eat, refuel, take a shower, and finally went to sleep, everything counted against their eight hours of rest. This led to many truckers only getting about five to six hours of rest a day. With this new rule in effect, truckers will have more time to unwind and relax.

Blair thinks the extra time for the drivers to relax will be a great boost for the industry. "This change to allow more rest will pay benefits in the long run for the industry," Blair said.

The truckers of Alabama are worried that the loading and unloading times will count against their 14 hours of driving time. With the old rule, truckers could rest while the trucks were being unloaded, but now with the changes this time will count against them. Blair agrees with other truckers who are worried about the loading time, but he feels as long as the companies are willing to work with them everything will work out.

Blair thinks that drivers who he calls "Regional Drivers," are the ones that make four or five deliveries a day, will be in trouble. He also thinks that they will have to rely more on the shippers making changes in order to help them make their daily runs.

A lot of other trucking companies are making increases in their drivers pay due to the possible lost mileage. Suttles Trucking is one of the many trucking companies in America that are waiting to see how everything works out before they make changes in their pay system.