New Legislation Could Mean Fewer Breaks for California Drivers
California’s size, population, and economic status means it sees much more trucking activity than most other U.S. states. While this provides good opportunities for both businesses and employees in the industry, it also necessitates appropriate rules.
Since drivers spend more time on the roads in California, state laws allow them to take more rest breaks. Break laws are enacted for two reasons. The first is on the grounds of proper worker treatment, and making sure drivers do not become overloaded or burnt out with their workload. The second reason ties into the first – it’s about making sure the roads stay safe.
Safety groups know the risks posed by fatigued truck drivers. Everything from sleep apnea studies to updates on logging practices have been enacted to cut down on drowsy drivers. Under California state law, truckers are currently allowed one thirty-minute meal break every five hours and one ten-minute rest break every four hours.
However, a new federal mandate may override the state’s ability to regulate itself. Safety groups and union officials alike have come out to protest the change, stating the top-down control shows a lack of understanding about the state’s unique status. They also maintain it would make the roads less safe for members of the motoring public driving near commercial trucks.
The new legislation, which was introduced by Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, aims to limit the ability states have to regulate themselves. If the new mandate passes, drivers will only have access to one thirty-minute break every eight hours.
The case for the legislation amounts to a case for uniformity. The freight industry commonly sees drivers cross into different states while on the job. A collection of uneven work regulations could make for some unforeseen difficulties in the future.
The new policy would only apply to interstate shipping, and was included in the House transportation funding bill and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Another case against the bill also deals with the types of shifts California drivers work. Not only are the roads a bit more crowded, but many truckers work for as much as 12-hours as a time. Fewer breaks could mean safety issues, as well as a shrink in the overall driver workforce operating in the state.