Truck drivers in California and all across America are tired. There is no doubt about it. These drivers have some of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the country, working long hours on the road away from family and friends. Companies are struggling to find enough truck drivers to keep up with consumer demands. As a result, currently employed truck drivers are taking on more loads than they otherwise might have, further contributing to driver exhaustion.
As if this was not enough, the federal government has now launched an all-out attack against lunch breaks for truck drivers. According to Business Insider, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decided last December that trucking companies in California were under no obligation to provide paid rest and meal breaks for truck drivers who drive in and outside of the Golden State. This is despite the fact that virtually all other laborers in California get a 30-minute break so long as they work more than five hours for a shift.
The petition reportedly first came from the American Trucking Associations and was granted by the FMCSA. In fact, the FMCSA went on to state that California’s meal and breaks regulations were a drag on the economy, which allegedly reduced productivity by 3%. This, they said, translated into higher cost of goods for “hard-working American families.”
Business Insider later published an article on New Haven Register picking up where their last story left off. They mentioned that the so-called lag on productivity resulted from a miscalculation that overstated the breaks truck drivers actually received by 60%. Naturally, many truck drivers now fear for the safety issues that may result from having stressed out, frustrated and exhausted truckers on the road. For this and other reasons, California and the Teamsters Union are suing FMCSA.
Ensuring truck drivers get the meals and rest they deserve not only keeps truck drivers happy in a struggling industry, but also helps to keep roadways safe. Hopefully, most California trucking companies will focus on the welfare of their employees and not just their bottom line by continuing to provide these breaks even though they are no longer required under federal law.