It happens sometimes. You write something about public policy that hits home. That’s what happened when Betsy Morris of the Wall Street Journal told the story of Manuel Hernandez, a 50-year-old long-haul trucker whose living and way of life are under assault by bureaucrats working at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The FMCSA had made changes in the rules for how long drivers can go without resting, and even what hours their breaks between workweeks must include.
There is only one problem. The rules aren’t working. “Sometimes, when you are not tired, you have to sleep, and when you’re tired, you have to drive,” Hernandez told Ms. Morris.
In addition, more and more drivers are being forced to drive at hours when there is more traffic, slowing them down and increasing the chances of accidents. Worse yet, many experienced drivers are thinking of quitting the business because their average wage has plummeted, largely because of the aggregate impact of all the new rules piled up on top of all the old ones governing their lives and their rigs.
It was a heck of a story about how bureaucracies in Washington, D.C., wage war against our own citizens, and last week we wrote about this war on long-haul truckers. And my oh my, did we hear back from truckers! Some of the comments are so good, they deserve columns of their own. Here is one by someone who signs himself “Tankpuller.”
I drove big trucks for 32 years. It was a fun job when I started out driving. Each year more regulations and less freedom for me to decide when I was ready to sleep or eat. I retired this year before the government “safety regulations” could get me killed. I loved driving but I don’t miss the government intrusions in my life.
Here is another, by someone called KRELL51:
Anyone who has driven much at night knows you don’t eat and stay awake, and sitting for 45 min for no particular reason just makes you tireder than you already were. No person should be allowed to write regulations for a job that they aren’t qualified to do.
This is a comment by Jason, which echoes KRELL51’s:
The problem isn’t “tired truckers,” it’s big shots in Washington that have never been in a truck making rules with no facts to support their findings. I know how many hours I can drive before I need sleep, I know how many hours of sleep I need before I can drive again and function safely. Quit making rules that take me out of that zone, and let me drive the truck. I don’t tell them how to do their job — let me do mine.
And then there is this testimony from someone who calls himself YeOldeDave:
I’m like the cat they wrote this article about, 43 years & haven’t run over a soul & I’m the kinda folks that you should wanna retain in this biz. I woulda driven til they had to pry my fingers off the wheel but….. No more, I’ve had it. Sorry, ya had yer chance, I’m gone in a while………… It’s no fun anymore, in fact it’s become a God-forsaken chore to drive a truck. Enjoy dodging the 2 week wonders that’ll replace me and thousands of other good, experienced but fed-up drivers.
Hopefully, when YeOldeDave quits driving, he’ll take up hosting a national radio show.