Retailers Warn of Higher Trucking Costs

Retailers Warn of Higher Trucking Costs

Transportation costs could rise as much as 20 percent if the Department of Transportation cuts the time truck drivers may spend behind the wheel, the National Retail Federation says.

The NRF estimates the DOT's hours-of-service proposal would jack up transportation costs for its members up to 20 percent, depending on a specific retailer's supply chain network.

The association also echoed trucker concerns that the rules would put more commercial vehicles on the road during daylight hours, increasing congestion and the risk of car-truck accidents.

Shippers also predict the proposed HOS rules would push already rising trucking costs even higher, as truck fleets and drivers lose time and miles each day, pushing up operating costs.

Since the current 11-hour rule took effect in 2004, retailers have achieved "significant efficiencies," said David French, NRF senior vice president for government relations.

"Any change to this daily driving limit will upset the careful balance and efficiencies that have been achieved and require changes to those new systems and processes," French said.

"Such changes could result in significantly higher transportation costs and could lead to less safety as additional drivers and trucks will be required to make up for the shortfall," he said.

French's comments were filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which proposed new hours of service rules in December. March 4 is the final day for comment.

The proposed HOS rules are part of a broader safety strategy at FMCSA that includes its Compliance, Safety and Accountability program and a proposed electronic onboard recorder mandate.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.