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Forced to run illegally

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By Dick Lower

Interviews conducted in the field by Dick Lower (Noted as DL in the interviews below).
Drivers are met in truck stops as they fuel up and grab a cup of coffee.
Here, in their element with the rumble of the road still reverberating in their body, they are free to share their thoughts--uncensored.
Drivers speak their minds about their carriers, good and bad, about the industry and how they feel about issues relating to them.

This month's question:
Do you feel pressure to accomplish your job even if you have to break the rules? In what way?
Do you routinely drive when overly tired? Why?

    TB, Pennsylvania
    Driver: Well, you're trying to meet a deadline and they give you bad directions half the time. For some reason they cheat you out of miles, so you try to guess how long to get somewhere and it takes an extra 100 miles to get there. They are not paying you for those extra miles and there is an extra two hours that you have to add on. You don't know till you get there, you know.
    DL: Yeah. It's not a good deal, is it?
    Driver: No.
    DL: Do you have to routinely drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Yeah! Because I'm the lead driver.
    DL: Do you find yourself going over your legal miles?
    Driver: Ahh, yeah. Cause I try to run 300 miles in a five hour shift or something.
    DL: Why do you feel pressured to accomplish what they give you to do? Do they give you threats? Intimidate you?
    Driver: Yeah, they do that because it's forced freight. Like right now I have a student who is not a good driver and I told them that. They said, "What do you think we ought to do?" and I said, "You ought to put her back in your school." They said, "No, we're not going to do that." They are not taking her off the truck and she is making it harder for me.
    DL: They are giving you the responsibility to take care of everything under your own charge and, if you don't get it done?
    Driver: Then it goes against me. If I'm late getting unloaded then they can get rid of me.

    LK, Illinois
    Driver: Well, you know you got to get the load there no matter what time they give it to you. I mean, they got an appointment. If you don't get it there somebody else does.
    DL: Do they intimidate you?
    Driver: Well, not really. I'd say the company I work for is about the best I have worked with for a while. But they let you know there are other people waiting to unload if you don't take it.
    DL: Do you have to routinely drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Oh yeah! Last week I was up in Kansas and they loaded me out of St. Louis and I didn't get loaded till 6:00 in the morning. I got there at midnight where I was supposed to pick it up, so I had to stay there all night, awake, to be sure the load was ready. I had to reach Kansas as soon and as fast as I could get there. As soon as I got there they gave me another load and I had to be up into Indiana within 36 hours.

    WM, Georgia
    Driver: Well, my company is a big stickler on logs. I understand that DOT requires them to do certain things and run that book as close and legal as possible. And they will come down on you for violations of that log, but if that run has got to be made, then they seem to tend to look the other way.
    DL: Do you routinely drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Normally I don't. I've been out here for over 20 years and two things I've been told when I first came out here: don't mess around with these truck stop women out here and when you get tired, stop!

    MCM, Florida
    Driver: This is an eight-hour-a-day job to me.
    DL: Do they try to pressure you?
    Driver: Sometimes they do, but the only time I break the rules is when I'm going home.
    DL: In what way do they try to pressure you?
    Driver: : Run 600 to 700 miles overnight! Well, they give it to you, but it's still up to you. I say, "Screw you. I'll get there when it's legal."

    WJ, Ohio
    Driver: Well, as far as meeting the delivery times. Then you have the pressures on the road, you know, traffic wise.
    DL: Do they intimidate you if you don't make delivery on time?
    Driver: Well, most companies do. If you don't make deliveries on time they are going to threaten you with your job.
    DL: Do you routinely drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Yeah! You have to do that just to make sure you keep your job.

    EK, Arizona
    Driver: Just being there on time, you know. Maybe a lot more miles than time. Like going from Detroit to Salt Lake City in short hours.
    DL: Do you routinely drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Ah, yeah, once in a while you have to do that to make the delivery.

    CI, Missouri
    Driver: No, they tell us that if we can't get there in the time we need, they will reschedule the appointment.
    DL: That's very good. Do drive when you are overly tired?
    Driver: Not really. If I have to, yeah, but it's like one in every 200 loads maybe.

    KS, Oklahoma
    Driver: When you have a certain appointment that is a long way to go and a short time to get there. If you have been up all day and you have to be somewhere the next morning you don't get your proper rest.
    DL: What happens if you don't make your appointment?
    Driver: You won't get another load as quickly; you will be put at the bottom of the list.
    DL: Do you routinely drive when you are overtired?
    Driver: No! Well, sometimes, because you have to be at an appointment and you are being pushed for time so you push yourself a little harder.

    JRH, Iowa
    Driver: Well, if you got to get there and might not have quite enough time on your log to get there, you still get there and make it work one way or another.
    DL: What happens if you don't get there?
    Driver: Well, something is going to be late.
    DL: Will you get into trouble?
    Driver: Oh, well, yeah.
    DL: Along with that do you routinely drive when you are overtired
    Driver: I wouldn't say routinely, but probably at least half of the time. Basically that's the way everybody schedules things.
    DL: They just don't give you time?
    Driver: Right.

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