Benevolent Federal government finally allows truckers to sit in the front seat
By Martin Hill
March 5, 2012
Imagine you're a truck driver who drives a big-rig and works with another person, as a team. The two of you haul freight across the United States, taking turns driving. There are many rules regulating the trucking industry- often hard to keep up with, yet very costly if one of the many revenue agents.. err, highway patrolmen catch you breaking one of the thousands of onerous laws on the books.
For 'Property-Carrying CMV Drivers', (commercial motor vehicle drivers who haul freight as opposed to bus drivers who transport passengers), Federal law has long-dictated that after your shift (which consists of a maximum of 11 hours drive-time in a 14 hour shift period maximum) you must be in a sleeper berth for 10 hours before you can drive again. Any time spent anywhere other than the sleeper berth would be considered ON DUTY and violation of federal law. In other words, if you finished your shift, slept 8 hours and then wanted to sit in the front passenger seat and talk with your partner, go on the computer, eat, or simply enjoy some scenery, that was forbidden. Forget it. 10 hours strictly in the sleeper berth was all that was allowed.
Don't you DARE get in the front seat for anything, or you would have become a criminal.
Now, sleeper berths can be pretty nice and comfortable. There is a bed, a dresser with all your things, a stereo, and sometimes a fridge, etc. Think of it as your mobile bedroom.
But sometimes, dog-gone it, maybe you wanted to get out of bed and sit down, and maybe get some someshine. Who sleeps ten hours straight anyway, (unless you're a teenager or one of the millions of depressed and hopeless unemployed Americans?) Think of it as being on a road trip, but being forced to stay lying down in the back seat, and never coming up to sit in the front seat, even if you're not tired. Sort of ridiculous.
Truckers who had dared to sit in the front seat and were caught by busibody police were subject to very high penalties and expensive citations to deal with. Also, they wouldn't be able to start their next driving shift, since their 10 hours sleeper time was interrupted. They would have had to start the ten hours break all over again before they could drive.
The prior rule of the on-duty time provision "Includes any time in CMV except sleeper-berth." But effective February 27, 2012, truck drivers are now allowed to sit in the front seat either before or after a consecutive 8 hours in the sleeper, in their moving truck!
So if a cop stops your partner and you're in the front seat during your 10 hour break, you dont have to worry about a thing, as long as you've had or are soon going to begin your 8 hours sleep.
This may not seem like a big deal, but many drivers probably sat in the front seat anyway occasionally, and had to jump in the back if they saw a cop or approached a weigh station.
It's a little bit more freedom in the property-carrying team trucker's daily routine, and is much more reasonable than the prior rule.
How often are the feds reasonable?
A little bit of good news, is all.
I should mention, that I once recieved a citation from the CHP when I was sitting in the front passenger seat of my big rig. It was a very expensive ticket, they wanted $700 bucks! I fought the ticket, and beat it in court, so I didn't pay them a dime. I'm a hard-working cheapskate. So good luck getting my money, you'll need it. You can read that story of how I beat the ticket here.
Another time, I was in the "FEDERALLY MANDATED SLEEPER BERTH" during my "MANDATED TEN HOURS' when a cop demanded I wake up and come out of the sleeper! Excuse my french, but screw them!
The story of that debacle is here. I recorded their illegal demands on my cell phone and their department, the so-called "Texas Department of Public Safety", was forced to admit wrongdoing. The two jackboots who barked those illegal orders at me in the middle of my sleep break had "corrective action' taken against them and had "retraining provided'.
Stand up for your liberties, folks; what little we have left.
Below is the low-down on the new rules from the feds own website, along with a link.
Summary of Changes of HOS Final Rule Published in December 2011
The effective date of the Final Rule is February 27, 2012
On-duty time Includes any time in CMV except sleeper-berth. Does not include any time resting in a parked vehicle (also applies to passenger-carrying drivers). In a moving property-carrying CMV, does not include up to 2 hours in passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in sleeper-berth.
Also see: Dr. Katherine Albrecht discusses how cops are tracking truck drivers using their shopper-rewards cards