LAST DECEMBER, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed changes in the “hours-of-service” restrictions for truck drivers, including one that would reduce the number of allowable daily driving hours from 11 to 10.
While proposed ostensibly for safety reasons, the change has evoked intense pushback from fleet owners, including retailers, and trade associations. “If we go back to 10 hours of drive time per day, this will have a significant effect on retailers' transportation departments and will create even more overnight runs and added expense to an ever-increasing expense department,” said Rhett Asher, vice president of industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va.
“As a result of the current 11-hour daily driving limit, U.S. retailers have been able to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks,” said David French, senior vice president for government relations, National Retail Federation, Washington, in a statement. “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.”
Gary Petty, president and chief executive officer of National Private Truck Council, expects the FMCSA to rule on the hours-of-service change by the end of the year. If the hours are lowered, he said, it is likely that lawsuits will delay its implementation. But as retailers plan their 2012 budgets, he advised them to consider the possibility of “lost capacity and increased costs” resulting from the rule change.