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Trucker Shortage Relief? Driving Hours Up, Demand Soaring?

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If you are interested in entering the profession of truck driving, then you may wonder how the current COVID-19 crisis has affected demand. WSBT reports that truckers are in very high demand for the transport of crucial goods, with critical tasks including stocking supermarkets, driving medical supplies to hospitals, and the like. Recently, the FMCSA, on behalf of the Department of Transportation, highlighted the crucial role that truck drivers are playing. The FMCSA recently took to Twitter to thank drivers, stating, “You are on the front lines of our nation’s fight against this virus, and you are making America proud. Together, we will win this fight.” The demand is only set to soar even more as recent news emerged that driver hour limitations have been removed.

New Rules On Truck Driver Hours

On May 14, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended the maximum working day for short-haul drivers from 12 to 14 hours, applying longer working shifts to more drivers by extending the definition of short-haul driving. This will save trucking companies almost $3 billion over a 10-year period, though members of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) called the amendments “dangerous and deadly detractions from current safety policies.”

If you are interested in being a truck driver, now is a good time, as demand is high. Hospitals and supermarkets alike are experiencing a rising need for goods, which need to be delivered by large vehicles.

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Unions Worried About The Time Extension

Truck driving can be dangerous when drivers are tired or have not enjoyed enough sleep quantity and quality. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that trucker deaths were at their highest level in 30 years. The NHTSA went so far as to say that “The numbers are even more reason that we shouldn’t head in the direction of loosening safety rules proven to work to make trucking safer, and that helps reduce the risks for people who share the road with trucks.” Increased accident rates can lead to lost lives as well as economic loss, and truck drivers who file legal claims to reclaim medical bills and lost wages may have to wait for several months to receive these amounts. Sometimes, diminished quality of life ensues, in which case court proceedings can be lengthier.

Opting For The Middle Ground

If you are applying for a trucking job, compare the conditions each company offers its workers. Bear in mind that with the new regulations, not only can your day be potentially lengthened, but you can also be asked to complete up to 150 miles from home base. Ask questions that may affect your safety and quality of life, including how early you are expected to start, how many hours you will be expected to work over an eight-day period, and how pay is calculated (by shift or mile). Most drivers in the U.S. cover a distance of around 125,000 miles per year, which breaks down to around 500 miles a day. Ask about perks as well, including truck ergonomics, expenses covered by the company, and the like.

“Truck drivers are among the most valued workers in the modern world. They work for companies of all types and sizes, shipping their products from the place of production to the place of marketing. The nature of their lives has been commemorated in countless songs, making them the twentieth- century equivalent of the nineteenth century pioneer or frontiersman.” – How to Become Your Own Boss as a Truck Driver

If you are interested in being a truck driver, now is a good time, as demand is high. Hospitals and supermarkets alike are experiencing a rising need for goods, which need to be delivered by large vehicles. Recent changes to regulations for short hauls mean you may have to complete more miles than you expected. Because driving for more hours is linked to an increased accident rate, shop among different companies and choose the one that offers a good work-life balance.

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