TRUCK THIS: Why I’m Leaving the Long-Haul Industry.
More recently, environmental regulations requiring manufacturers to reduce emissions gave us the diesel particulate filter (DPF), an exhaust treatment system that replaces a standard muffler. While there is no current federal mandate requiring a DPF, the filters are required by the 2008 California Statewide Truck and Bus Rule, which has incentivized many nationwide fleets to adopt them. The problem with DPFs is the filter system clogs. A lot.
When DPFs go down, trucks roll to a stop. Truckers report having to have a DPF serviced as often as every 5,000 miles, which means lots of lost productivity and stranded cargo. I’ve had four breakdowns over the past two years, and three were due to my DPF. A tow truck driver I spoke to on one of those occasions told me half of his business comes from malfunctioning DPFs. Repairs are a specialized affair, and replacements can cost up to $2,000. When my truck isn’t moving, I’m not earning. And these regulators have required that my truck stand still far too often.
Next up on the government’s list of ways to make truckers’ lives miserable are proposed speed limiters. Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation, wants to limit all tractor-trailers to the same speed. Imagine being stuck behind a pair of tractor trailers side by side, who can’t speed up to pass each other. It’s relatively rare right now, but it will become the norm. Every single interstate nationwide will be populated by moving roadblocks, inspiring road rage and blocking critical services. What happens when the fire truck or ambulance is stuck behind these unbreakable pairs?
However well-intentioned these rules and regulations might be, it’s clear that no one is consulting with the long haul truckers about the totally foreseeable bad outcomes.
Outcomes don’t matter. Only moral preening by the likes of otherwise useless functionaries like Pete Buttigieg matters.