Groups representing shippers say new rules on work hours for truck drivers will reduce efficiency across their supply chains, complicating delivery schedules, raising costs and even undermining safety on highways.
“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.
The NAM was among several groups that sharply criticized the hours-of-service rules the Department of Transportation issued Dec. 22. Due to take effect in 18 months, the new version of the trucker work regulation would 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, say the shipping groups, could 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,” Kolb said.
Timmons said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had even 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,” he said.
NASSTRAC, which represents largely less-than-truckload shippers, said the requirement for overnight rest periods was particularly troubling.
“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.
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. “This is a case where something that might sound good on paper doesn’t work in the real world," he said.
The American Trucking Associations says it is considering legal action to block the new rules.