RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - For truckers, keeping in front of the ever-changing rules of the road can be a big challenge. To help celebrate Trucker Appreciation Day, the Tilford Port of Entry near Sturgis was extra busy on Wednesday during the lunch hour, as truckers were given lunch as a token of appreciation.
A day in the life of a trucker is regulated by a complicated formula that balances hours on vs. hours off and miles driven. Every minute and every mile counts.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration creates the regulations, and there are proposed changes to modify the policies.
Currently, the regulations carefully balance hours on vs. hours off.
"Ok, right now we have a time clock, and once you start your time clock, you have 14 hours to complete 11 hours worth of driving," explained John Freese, a trucker at Potato King. "We have to take a 30-minute break after six hours. So, you can't stop the time clock at this present moment, so once you start your time clock, you've got to be able to perform. As truck drivers, we're all being paid by the mile. It becomes an issue if you can't get those miles in, if you're spending time sitting at a dock."
Proposed changes mean truckers could take a break while they are on duty but not driving and they could "pause" the 14-hour driving window for an off-duty break of up to three hours, provided the trucker still takes ten consecutive hours off at the end of the work shift. Freese would not welcome those changes. He thinks they would be detrimental to drivers.
"I've looked into that. It's not enough. It's giving us some flexibility, but it's also going to create a lot of havoc between the drivers. If we could go back to the rules we had in the '70s or '80s, where you had a flexible 10 hours on, 10 hours off, 14-hour clock at that point which means you could go back to driving another four more hours, you know, in that 24-hour . . . it was a whole lot better because you could change between one-time change to another time change."