Right before the end of 2011, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a revised Driver’s Hours-of-Service Final Rule (HOS) impacting the daily and weekly amounts that trucker drivers can drive.
The new rule is a bit complicated but the ramifications are severe and will surely be felt on America’s roadways and throughout the retail industry supply chain.
The new rule retained the 11-hour daily driving limit for truck drivers but altered the weekly restart provision to include two consecutive nights off for every driver and a mandatory rest break for truck drivers within the first eight hours of driving. While NRF was pleased with the decision to retain the 11-hour daily driving limit, we are extremely concerned with the mandatory two consecutive nights included in the restart provision.
NRF believes that these changes will drive up retailer transportation costs and make trucking less safe due to the fact that more trucks will have to be added onto our already congested roadways to make up for those drivers on mandatory breaks. NRF also contends that the FMCSA failed to truly recognize the importance of nighttime driving and early morning deliveries. As we all know, many retailers rely upon nighttime driving and early morning deliveries as a way to keep costs down and trucks off the road during peak driving times to reduce congestion with passenger vehicles.
NRF’s concerns with the new HOS rule is supported by the supply chain community, including the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, who contend that the rule would not improve safety (as intended) but potentially make trucking less safe because more trucks would have to be added on the roads during the busiest daytime hours in order to make up for lost productivity and reduced driving times.
NRF submitted comments to the FMCSA during the rulemaking process to explain the negative impact the proposed changes would have on the retail industry. In fact, an NRF member, Badcock Home Furnishing traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify at a Congressional hearing on how the proposed rule would negatively impact their retail business.
Even though the new rule has been published it will not become effective until July 2013, so retailers, transportation providers and others have time to challenge the rule in court or adjust their logistics plans accordingly.