Manufacturers and retailers have reacted to the recent changes in drivers’ hours of service rules, saying the rules will reduce efficiency across their supply chains, complicate delivery schedules and raise costs.
“The final trucking hours of service rule will have a negative impact on manufacturers’ supply chains, distribution operations and productivity,” Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.
In late December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the US Department of Transportation published its long-awaited changes to the HOS rules.
Although it retained the 11-hour daily driving limit (it was widely predicted it would be reduced to 10 hours), the 34-hour restart provision is being limited to once per week (every 168 hours); and will require anyone using the provision to include within it two night periods between 1:00 a.m.- 5:00 a.m. of rest.
NAM and other shipping groups say the restart change could trigger a costly overhaul of supply chains.
“Rather than encouraging greater efficiency, the new hours of service regulations will increase transportation costs, congestion and pollution by funneling more trucks onto the road at peak driving times,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president for government relations at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
David French of the National Retail Federation said the result could be worse than making roads more congested.
“These new regulations will still drive up costs for businesses and consumers while making our highways and city streets more dangerous rather than safer,” he said in a press release. “This is a case where something that might sound good on paper doesn’t work in the real world.”
Canadian Trucking Alliance President David Bradley said that although he’s pleased the 11th hour of driving will remain in place, he, like his U.S. counterparts at the American Trucking Associations, is disappointed that the reset provision is being changed – “particularly since it was an idea that started here in Canada in a report … commissioned by OTA in the early ’90s,” he told Truck News this week.
“I suppose it could have been worse … but I find the rationale for the changes to the reset provisions hard to justify. Not only will there be a productivity impact but it does create the potential to put trucks on the road later in the morning for drivers coming off resets — potentially increasing truck traffic during rush hour periods.”
Bradley said American regulators should have looked north to Canada to see how a more flexible set of rules can work without compromising safety.
Bradley added that the attention in the US to important initiatives such as mandatory EOBRs and sleep apnea screening has been sidetracked by the “ongoing debate and legal wrangling over the US hours of service rules once again.”
Meanwhile, the American Trucking Associations hasn’t ruled out legal action to block the new rules.
The new HOS rules are not expected to take effect until at least 2013.