The current Hours Of Service limitations means drivers are more concerned than ever with safety policies. Particularly where driver fatigue is concerned.
Everybody knows it by now: Where the FMCSA’s 15-hour “driving + on-duty” limit formerly applied strictly to On The Job time, the current law—passed last December—imposes a limit of 14 hours, period.
Which means exhausted drivers can no longer pull off the road and “clock-out” in the middle of their shifts for much-needed naps—then clock-in, refreshed and ready to go, without counting that downtime as part of their newly-reduced HOS total.
Which also means we’re probably now seeing a lot more drivers trying to push their way through exhaustion in order to maximize their earnings potential during those 14 hours. Not to mention an increase in the number of drivers tempted to falsify logs.
So what’s the solution for recruiting? Full disclosure.
Make Your Policies Transparent.
Cliff Abbott, a longtime industry veteran (and author of the highly-recommended book, Chronicles of an American Trucker), notes, “Our industry has a long tradition of rewarding drivers for NOT accurately reporting their hours. Too many drivers have learned to maximize their available driving time, which they are paid for, while not recording time spent in non-driving activities—like loading, or inspecting their vehicle.”
Publishing your safety policies is one way to weed-out drivers with bad habits—saving you the trouble of learning about them the hard way.
Create A Plan For Improving Driver Quality of Life.
Driver health has a huge impact on fatigue. Poor health, especially obesity, can create sleep problems like sleep apnea—so Abbott recommends companies thoroughly screen its new drivers on the front end. “I’d also recommend physical capabilities testing—to make sure that drivers meet certain minimum capabilities standards. Then, provide training in fatigue management and hours of service. And, of course, you should always stress overall safety as a core value of your company.”
Still, even healthy drivers get sleepy—which is one reason why Truck Stop shelves are lined with Energy Drinks and Energy Shots. “Ideally, drivers should avoid using any kind of stimulant,” says Abbott. “It goes without saying that companies should be against illegal stimulants, but even legal stimulants like caffeine can compound existing health issues—particularly high blood pressure.
“The best answer for driver fatigue,” Abbot concludes, “is rest.” Too bad the best answer now comes with a Federally mandated penalty. Call it a tax on common sense.