FMSCA Regulations are Incompatible with Anti-Idling Legislation

There is a serious problem in the trucking industry that everyone is talking about and lawmakers only seem to want to exacerbate.

There is a serious problem in the trucking industry that everyone is talking about and lawmakers only seem to want to exacerbate. With new laws instituted this year to force truckers to work more humane hours, with mandatory breaks and a 36 hour off time after every 70 hours, it seems like legislators are trying to help. That may even be true on the federal level, but these laws are causing problems.

 

Most U.S states have anti-idling laws, some of which don’t even allow enough time to warm up a truck. That’s already a bit problematic, but when you combine that with summer in Arizona, or a Connecticut winter, there’s no cat meme in the world that can make that ok.

 

Truckers need to be able to run the heater or the air conditioner in their truck. We travel through extreme environments, and our basic needs need to be respected.

 

State law in Connecticut and New York allows for fines of over $20,000 for letting your truck idle more than a few minutes. Many states allow for up to a year imprisonment for the same offense. I think it is safe to say that American lawmakers have lost their minds.

This is not the first time the FMSCA has passed laws that they think are good, but don’t understand the practical implications of. Earlier this year, in September, the FMSCA listened to the industry and finally agreed to amend its entry level training regulations.

 

Government regulation is well and good, especially when it comes to safety standard and worker treatment. It would be better, however, to pursue solutions that would actually be able to accomplish those goals.

 

Instead of banning idling, legislators could pass laws that require commercial big rigs to install climate control that works without it, rather than banning idling outright. Maybe even do a google search to figure out how long it takes to warm up a truck before making it illegal.

 

I’ll be honest here and say that I’ve never actually been fined or punished for idling my truck, but it is extremely worrisome to  me that I have to break the law just to do my job properly.

 

To better worker treatment and reduce fatigue related accidents, don’t make a law that forces truckers to take their breaks, while leaving the system that incentivizes such recklessness and punishes adherence to regulations intact. That is simply thoughtless.

To reduce driver fatigue and prevent accidents, pass legislation to ban the pay by the mile system. Everything from reckless speeding and breaking the overtime regulations is because the truckers absolutely need to get their miles in or they will not be paid.

 

Driver pay should be hourly or by salary. It’s not like truck drivers want to put themselves or others in danger.

 

Getting paid for getting the job done right, rather than as quickly as possible and by any means necessary, is the way to inspire drivers to be safe.

 

If legislators spent just a little bit of time actually thinking about some of the cause and effect relationships at play here, none of these problems would persist.

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