One trucker protest went like this: professional truck drivers in the USA “are being asked to pull their trucks to the side of the road for one hour [from 1-2 p.m. Eastern time on May 23] to gain the attention of Washington and focus it on soaring fuel prices.”(1)
We have listed 10 reasons why parking your truck can be costly:
- Parking your truck on the side of the road (that is, in the emergency lane, breakdown lane or shoulder) is supposed to be for real emergencies only.Any other use of it may land you a ticket by law enforcement.Let’s also consider the use of your truck’s flashers and warning devices while you’re parked there.According to the FMCSR:
§ 392.22 Emergency signals; stopped commercial motor vehicles.
(a) Hazard warning signal flashers. Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices required by paragraph (b) of this section. The flashing signals shall be used during the time the warning devices are picked up for storage before movement of the commercial motor vehicle. The flashing lights may be used at other times while a commercial motor vehicle is stopped in addition to, but not in lieu of, the warning devices required by paragraph (b) of this section.
(b) Placement of warning devices-(2) General rule. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the warning devices required by §393.95 of this subchapter, in the following manner:
Running your flashers for an extended period of time could run down the charge in your truck’s batteries.
Run them long enough and you may not have enough cranking power.
That means you may need a costly service call.
Also, any time you set out or collect your warning devices (usually emergency reflective triangles), you run the risk of injury from vehicles passing by.
- Parking your truck on the side of the road may increase the likelihood of accidents on the road, particularly as some other drivers may try to merge into lanes other than the one you’re parked next to.Not only that, but you risk being rear-ended by someone else (whether or not they are pulling over for a genuine emergency).Not only can you be targeted for impact, but you might also be targeted for hijacking.You plan to park, they plan to steal your load.If you set up the conditions to make it easy for your load to be stolen, you can kiss your job goodbye.
Would the trucker protest then be worth it to you?
- If you are a company driver and you delay your delivery or ETA by an hour without justifiable cause (such as during a trucker protest), you could risk losing your job.Some trucking companies are having a hard time keeping truckers on the payroll, and any interruption in your service as a driver could see you being replaced.(1)
- Your health could suffer from exposure to high heat if you shut off your engine and don’t run any kind of diesel-powered climate control device.The high temperature in Savannah, GA, was expected to be 99°F on May 23.Do you want to bake in your hot truck during the 1-2 p.m. hour? (Note: idling your truck or running a diesel-powered APU during the hour seems contradictory in the face of the protest being demonstrated.)
- Delaying delivery on the load you’re under could mean that you’ll miss a good follow-up load or that the load you could have had could be assigned to another driver who didn’t stop during the trucker protest.Consider, too, if the load you could have picked up — had you been an hour closer to delivery — is the one that would have gotten you home so you wouldn’t miss an important event.
- Depending on when your company cuts off paying trips for the week, delaying your delivery by an hour today could reduce your paycheck for this week and have a domino effect on paychecks for future weeks.
- If word gets out in your trucking company that you parked your truck for an hour during a trucker protest, it could tarnish your reputation for getting future loads of any kind.Your name could start to be bandied about by fleet managers, driver managers and planners as “the parker.”When you show up at the dispatch window or call in or send a QualComm message asking for a new load, you may have to start expecting snippy comebacks like, “Why don’t you just go park your truck for an hour and come back?”
- Parking your truck for an hour could mess up your Hours of Service (HOS), particularly if you drive in congested areas where there isn’t much by way of truck parking.
- If you’re living close to the edge financially, you can’t afford to spend an hour just sitting still during a trucker protest.You need to be busy working to earn a paycheck.Have you budgeted in the potential costs of voluntarily waiting an hour that you could have been working?
- Not all trucks will stop during the protest, particularly just-in-time delivery services and drivers with local truck driving jobs who need to make all their deliveries and get back to their home terminals before their HOS run out because they don’t have sleeper berths on their trucks.Because the shutdown will most likely not be industry-wide, the effort may not have the impact desired.Consider the value of your contribution (of the millions of truck drivers in the USA), whether or not taking part is worth it and if there is a better, more cost effective way of making your voice heard.Furthermore, consider the consistency of your arguments regarding your paycheck.If you’ve ever spent time grumbling about being involuntarily delayed at a shipper’s or receiver’s location, don’t be looking for sympathy when you stop voluntarily for an hour during a trucker protest.
Making An Impact: Strength in Numbers
Yes, the cost of diesel is high.
But we find the idea of this kind of trucker protest pointless.
In our opinion, elected officials in Washington, DC, will not pay attention to a relatively small number of trucks parked along roads today.
The mainstream media will probably brush it off as not even meriting a story, let alone one that sides with truckers.
The only way for a trucker protest to make much of a dent is if every truck stopped (particularly fuel tankers) for a few days.
When there is no fuel, no food and no toilet paper, that’s when people will take notice.
A total shutdown of trucks will have to take place across the board either voluntarily (which is unlikely for reasons stated above) or by brute force (such as through an electromagnetic pulse, aka “EMP”).
A much better way to make your voices heard in our opinion than to stage a “park it” trucker protest about the high price of fuel is to call, fax or email the White House and your legislators in the U.S. House (either enter your zip code to search for your Representative or use the Directory if you know his/her name) and U.S. Senate (select your state to find your two Senators).
A search for a phrase similar to “write effective letter to Congress” can help give you ideas on how to frame your argument for a letter as well as a phone call.
If lots of truckers coordinated their calls on the same day and flooded Washington to the extent that the phones start “ringing off the hook” on this issue, elected officials would probably then pay attention.
Another way to make your voice heard is to join an appropriate trucker advocacy group that can speak in your behalf.
Money saving tip: Consider the value of one hour of your working time.
At a minimum, you could calculate it as the average number of miles you run in an hour times your per-mile pay rate.
To make the math easy, let’s look at a few examples:
- 50 mph * $0.35/mile = $17.50/hour
- 55 mph * $0.37/mile = $20.35/hour
- 60 mph * $0.40/mile = $24.00/hour
It’s up to you to figure all the costs involved in spending an hour taking part in a trucker protest.
1. www.truckdriversnews.com/trucker-pullover-protest-against-rising-diesel-prices-monday-may-23-1-2-pm/ (no longer online)
2. www.delawareonline.com/article/20110522/BUSINESS/105220336/Trucking-companies-hard-pressed-keep-drivers-their-payrolls?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Home (no longer online)