Truck drivers are truly the lifeblood of our economy. Goods produced or grown in the far reaches of the nation end up on your local grocery store shelf because a trucker gets behind the wheel and hauls it hundreds if not thousands of miles to your town.

The government with their 'infinite collective wisdom' stepped in to make sure long-haulers don't escape the long arm of regulation. All in the name of 'safety' of course.

Truckers are limited to 14 hours of work - only 11 driving -  before they are required to take a 10 hour break. There are some exceptions afforded to local agriculture and transporting livestock,  but 10 hours is an awful long time to have your rig down and not be allowed to start up and continue the journey.

Caleb Ruiter Unsplash
Caleb Ruiter Unsplash

For decades the rule was 8 hours, which is the number that the Teamsters fought to keep. But despite the actual experts who drive the trucks weighing in, the bureaucrats in the federal government set the new rules in 2013. It's also way longer than most people I know need to refresh.

Understanding that I don't drive for a living doesn't take away the impact of my recent trips in the RV. I was able to travel from Princeton to San Diego in 52 hours. That included two stops sleeping for 2 hours. Now I'm smart enough to realize that a schedule like that is an outlier and not sustainable for a career. But if two hours is too little, then surely 10 hours is too much.

Yassine Khalfalli Unsplash
Yassine Khalfalli Unsplash

Seems that if Truck drivers can work 5-6 days a week and drive for 12 hours with a 30-minute break with a required 6 hours in between runs, our roads would be just as safe as the government's goal and we'd empower truckers to earn more and deliver more goods. The argument that is always made when government increases regulation is about safety.

But the numbers tell a different story if you're focused on crashes and fatalities before and after the new rules. What's telling is that the number of crashes and fatalities are higher in the past three reporting years (2017-2019) that they were in the three years preceding the new rules (2010-2012). Beyond overall safety, it's important to note that trucks are only involved in 11% of crashes. 

Given the reality of highway safety and the role of trucks it's time to ease up on the throttle of regulation. Especially given the current crisis caused by lockdown policies, government subsidies and a lack of leadership in Washington, it's time to suspend the rules to get our economy moving again. One of New Jersey's famous truckers called to weigh in on the conversation, Newly elected Senator Ed Durr. He had the quote of the day, "When the wheels stop, the world stops". He was speaking up for the truckers who keep our economy moving. Give our Truckers a break and let 'em drive.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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