Your 30 Minute Break and You.

People are still bemoaning the fact that the government makes them stop working to take a break after a certain amount of time.  It does become a bit of a hindrance at times, but let’s consider one thing; there’s not a single other field of labor in the United States that requires people to work their entire shift in one sitting without some kind of break. Even police get a break.

Give them a break, will ya?

When first put in place, the 30 minute break needed to take place after 8 consecutive hours on duty. Recently this changed slightly, to require a 30 minute break after 8 hours driving time. It’s a small change, but has potentially big ramifications. 

Basically, this just green lights drivers who like to be in an off duty status while they’re loading or unloading. In many ways this makes sense. Often while you’re waiting to load or unload, and the process takes hours. Sometimes it takes ridiculous amounts of hours. Are you actually working while some underpaid forklift operator who hates his life is milking the clock so he can load one less truck that day? The FMCSR book used to say ‘yes’. Many people disagree. 

For the most part, gone are the days of hand unloading and loading freight. So whether you’re sitting in your truck playing on your cell phone, or the customer has a “driver waiting area” that you’re made to stay in, you’re not really working per se. Though, listening to drivers tell stories in some sort of cordoned off area can sometimes be taxing on the brain, it’s not physical exertion. So in these cases, you’ll be able to leave that customer, and carry on with your day. Even if your truck sits still for 30 minutes in an “On-Duty” status, your e-Log will likely say you have a full 8 hours left to work. The reason for this is that the new change says that your 30 minute break can take pace in any status except driving.

This guy actually works when loading and unloading. That’s On Duty time.

Off the top of my head I can think of one area where this new change will be helpful. There are many companies who want their drivers in an on duty status while they’re at shippers and receivers. Maybe they pay for the drivers time, or simply want them in an on duty status in case the driver gets hurt, and lawyers get involved. Being in an on duty status is immensely helpful if you’re at work and get hurt and lawyers get involved. 

Sometimes a customer can be a real stickler about truck sitting on their property when they’re not being loaded or unloaded. Or waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Sometimes they simply want you gone right away. With the new change, instead of staring a violation in the face because you’re “up against your thirty”, you’ll be able to actually leave that place, get some miles on and take your quick break elsewhere, rather than on the street outside, which nobody also wants. Some shippers and receivers are in areas where you don’t want to be unless you’re behind a tall fence and a locked gate.

Looks serious. Let’s leave now.

The simple fact is people don’t want trucks anywhere except exactly where they’re supposed to be, or gone. That will never change. 

When it first came about, a common question was, “What the hell am I supposed to do for thirty minutes?!”

It’s a fair question, I suppose. I asked the forum members, who are mostly truck drivers at the Freight Relocators Forum and it was like herding cats. I got two whole responses. Truck drivers aren’t always known for their cooperative behavior.  

The first was from Carl, from Winthrop Harbor, Illinois which nobody has any idea the location of. Think, between Milwaukee and Chicago, right at the state line. Carl is currently doing long haul trips to the west coast, where most of his days mainly consist of driving, and not much else. Personally, I love those kind of days, and wish they happened to me more often. They do not. 

Here is Carl’s response: 

“I try to run that first 250/300 miles then I pull off take at least an hour nap sometimes 2/3 and that seems to get me through rest of my day..
Granted I’m currently doing Long Haul I ain’t gotta stop 3/4 places everyday either…
Basically I gotta just cover 5/6 hundred miles per day..
Not everyone has that luxury and I completely understand that”

Sometimes I miss running out west.

The other response I got was from Lyle, who works for a large private fleet and runs out of Pennsylvania. Here is Lyle’s response. 

“Sleep. You know how hard working here is.”

Lyle and I work for the same private fleet. Well, Lyle, that makes two of us. I sleep too. Though we look at it a little differently. I’ll get to that in a minute. Sometimes, my 30 minute naps run for around 45 minutes, whereupon I get up, throw a sandwich together, put a paper towel on the passenger seat, and continue down the road. 

Unlike Carl in the first example, many of my days do in fact include stopping at four or five, and sometimes even more places. Across the industry we have a 14 hour window in which to get as much work done as we can every day. Most of my working days are at least 12 hours long, and some get very close to a full 14. Drivers like Carl will rarely see themselves up against their 14. For Lyle and myself it’s far too normal. I set a timer on my phone, and that’s that.

…don’t go into a rant….don’t go into a rant…14 hours…that’s a different subject…

I don’t know any other field of labor where this is normal either. Emergency Room doctors and nurses, maybe. 

This is me. On my 30 break. And that cute too.

I’m not going to go into a rant about the 14 hour rule, but I’ll finish this whole thing by saying the following. A 14 hour workday is a pretty damn long one for anyone. Lyle, or anyone else don’t sell yourself short.

They gave you a break. 

Take it.

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