Fatigue and the 14 Hour Rule

There is a long standing debate on whether dispatch or the log system is to blame for fatigue among drivers .The overall log rules are not the problem. Only one rule hampers production and serves no viable purpose. This rule was to create circadian rhythms in drivers and failed miserably. That rule is the 14 hour clock. Remove that one rule and production increases because we can drive and sleep as our body needs not as the clock dictates… Get rid of the 14 hour clock and drivers do what they do best. Drive when they can and more important sleep when they need to, not when the clock says to. The rule never worked. If you worked regular hours you may create rhythms but we do not. We rarely fill our 14 hour clock. You may start at 7 am but unless you end your day at 9 pm, your next day may start at 3 am. Or you may not deliver until 10 am so now you may drive til midnight.

I have told this story many, many times. A simple day pre-2004: For simplicity start sleeping at a customer, which I try to avoid. Deliver at 7am and leave customer at 8am. Drive 2 hours and arrive at another customer. Take 1 hour to load. Drive an hour and stop for lunch, 1 hour. Drive 2 hours and stop for a shower because schools get out, 1 hour. Drive 2 hours stop for dinner because it’s rush hour, 1 hour. Drive 3 hours and shut down for the day. I just drove 500 miles at 50mph and goofed off most of the day. Try doing that on the 14 hour clock. The 14 hour rule does is causes drivers to play beat the clock. Most drivers become drivers because they don’t have regular rhythms and\or do not need 8 hours sleep. It is not driving at night or the amount of hours that is the problem. We all have our own feelings for what is the best time to drive. Some like nights, some days. The problem is the “beat the clock system” in place now. We all have had days where for whatever reason we did not get enough sleep on our break, weather that was just our mandatory 10 or off time at home. You leave out when planned and that lack of rest sneaks up on you. At this point any normal  person would pull over and take a nap. But with the 14 hour clock that is no longer easily done without putting a dent in your paycheck. And let’s face it we are out here for a paycheck.

There is still no excuse for driving fatigued, but at least the average “Joe” should understand how sometimes it gets done. Any time you let anything but good judgment drive your truck, bad things will happen. My beef has been the 14 hour clock. When your hands touch that wheel you are the one to determine whether or not you can drive, not dispatch, not “systems for dummies” and not your paycheck. You are morally responsible to everyone outside your windshield to do the job to the best of your abilities or park. There is no in between. All the excuses\reasons in the world do not justify you moving that truck at less than 100%. Dispatch says move that truck, you send a message saying I am tired. They legally must shut you down, if they don’t find another company…TRI

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