CHAPELS

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of pa­per logs. Elec­tronic logs can’t be con­trolled by driv­ers who might want to pause their time clock to take a faith break, they said.

“The last three years, they’ve re­ally slowed down tremen­dously” to just a few vis­i­tors to the chapel each Sun­day, Foor said.

The change sad­dens the chap­lain and makes him worry about those who no longer wan­der into the trailer parked at the edge of the TA Travel Cen­ters of Amer­ica stop in He­bron off I-70’s Exit 126.

Foor’s chapel, part of a net­work span­ning 28 states called Truck­ers Chris­tian Chapel Min­istries, is one of 10 run by three or­ga­ni­za­tions in Ohio.

The chapels are typ­i­cally housed in con­verted semi-trail­ers on the edges of travel plazas and truck stops.

They’re used to bring the gospel to often-iso­lated truck driv­ers, said Ruth Martin, an ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant at Trans­port for Christ In­ter­na­tional, a non­profit group with 28 chapels and min­istries in 81 lo­ca­tions across the na­tion.

“Truck­ing is a very lonely in­dus­try,” Martin said. “Stop­ping at our chapels not only gives (truck­ers) phys­i­cal rest, but spir­i­tual rest.”

Based in Ma­ri­etta, Penn­syl­va­nia, the group be­gan us­ing mo­bile chapels to min­is­ter to truck driv­ers in 1968 and set up the first per­ma­nent chapel in 1986.

Martin and Steve Umholtz, a truck driver and part-time chap­lain at a travel cen­ter in Florida, said they also be­lieve the drop in truck­ers stop­ping at the chapels is re­lated to the switch to elec­tronic logs.

Truck driv­ers were man­dated by Congress in 2015 to switch to elec­tronic log­ging de­vices by this past De­cem­ber.

The de­vices clock how long truck­ers drive within an 11-hour pe­riod — the max­i­mum time a driver can be on the road dur­ing a shift. But the driv­ers are not able to stop the clock to take a break, Umholtz said. And, if they stop for more than 30 min­utes, as they’re man­dated to dur­ing the first eight hours, they can’t drive their full shift, which means they’ll get paid less, he said.

The Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion said driv­ers can still turn off their clocks and switch to off-duty time, but Umholtz said driv­ers can only do that when they don’t have a load.

“When we started truck­ing in 2001, you could turn off your clock,” said Umholtz, who drives with his wife, Phyl­lis.

When driv­ers are done with their 11-hour shifts, he added, they might not be near a chapel where they can stop and wor­ship. And af­ter reach­ing their driv­ing limit, driv­ers must take 10 hours off be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel again.

The rule change is in­tended to en­hance driver safety, said Sean McNally, spokesman with the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tions, a trade group with more than 37,000 mem­bers.

He said the elec­tronic de­vices pre­vent driv­ers from fal­si­fy­ing the hours they drive and pro­mote safety by also pre­vent­ing driv­ers from driv­ing too many hours in a shift. And there’s still the op­por­tu­nity for driv­ers to stop, McNally said.

“We en­cour­age driv­ers to take care of their health in all manners, whether it’s their phys­i­cal health, their spir­i­tual health or their men­tal health,” he said. “If you were able to make time to do that be­fore with a pa­per log ... you should be able to do that now.”

Umholtz said some truck­stop chapels have al­ready closed be­cause of the changes, and he hopes they don’t dis­ap­pear al­to­gether.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant for (chapels) to ex­ist be­cause guys are away from home, away from fam­ily, away from their wives,” he said. “It’s easy to get lost in the high weeds of life as a truck driver. You’re out there by your­self.”

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