New law would give California truckers fewer breaks

New law would give California...

SALINAS, Calif. - At the Salinas Valley Truck Stop, it's not uncommon to find truckers who are coming off 10 to 12-hour hauls.

"There is a lot of pressure to keep moving,” said trucker Grant Palmer, “it’s all pay-by-the-mile."

Currently, California requires drivers take a 30 minute break every five hours and a 10 minute break every four hours, but a policy change to two proposed transportation House bills would silence that state requirement for drivers going across state lines, allowing only a half hour break for an eight-hour shift.

“One half-hour break per eight hours? That seems like a long day," said Palmer.

The measure, drafted by Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock, would stop states from setting their own requirements for truckers going from state to state and the hours they work. Teamsters Local Union 890 in Salinas represents truckers and says these breaks are an important part of keeping the roads safe.

"(Be)cause when you are driving a long distance you got to rest every once in a while to keep your mind and your body fresh to keep driving,” said union representative Crispin Leon, “it's a matter of safety.”

But not all agree with California’s law to begin with. Some say that a 30 minute break over an eight hour shift is plenty of time.

"Drivers seem to get a little more fatigued from sitting too long. If they can stay fresh by just moving on with their routes I think 30 minutes is plenty enough," said John Sartori, vice president of Salinas Valley Motor Express. 

Outside of the trucking industry, many drivers say they would be nervous to share the road with truckers who are not well-rested.

"I think they need more breaks so it can cause less accidents on the road because I always see truckers driving out of the lane because they are really tired," said David Weldon of Soledad.

This isn't the first time this kind of the policy change has been proposed. In 2015, a similar amendment was added to a House transportation bill. It died in the Senate.

KION reached out Rep. Denham's office several times but they did not call back in time for this story.

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