It seems to be a classic case of “what looks good on paper doesn’t always work in real life.” The upcoming revised HOS Rule issued by the DOT is something that tries to please everyone, but ends up pleasing no one. What’s wrong with it?
Shippers say new rules on work hours for truck drivers will make it harder to get freight where it needs to go on time, will reduce efficiency across their supply chains, will raise costs and in some cases will even make our roadways LESS safe. Retail leaders and transportation industry moguls seem to be in agreement about this.
Several industry groups have sharply criticized the hours of service rules the Department of Transportation issued Dec. 22. Due to take effect in 2013, the new rules maintain the 11-hour daily limit on driving but would place far tighter restrictions on the so-called restart provision that resets the driving clock after set periods of rest. The new rule would cut weekly work time from 82 hours to 70 and require rest periods include the hours between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The restart provision over-complicates logistics and may trigger a broad and 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. The new hours of service rule will upend the advances in efficiency made over the past decade, he says.
What burns trucking industry leaders the most is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conceded it did not have enough information to make a larger change in the rules. To change these rules and limit the flexibility of manufacturers without sufficient reasoning is a mistake and will impede the ability of manufacturers to invest, grow and create jobs, says Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. The effect is that down time due to restarts will increase significantly, and many drivers will start driving on Monday mornings, forcing thousands of trucks onto our roadways in rush hour and dramatically increasing traffic congestion, said John Cutler, legal counsel for NASSTRAC.
The American Trucking Associations says it is considering legal action to block the new rules. More as this story develops.