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Road rage: proposed trucking regulations draw RILA’s wrath

Reducing the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to spend behind the wheel sounds like it would be a good idea to improve the nation’s roadways, but nothing could be further from the truth, according the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

The trade group is looking to defeat new rules proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that includes a provision that would reduce to 10 from 11 the number of hours drivers are allowed to drive before taking a 34-hour break.

RILA points to accident statistics that show as far as big rigs are concerned the nation’s roadways have never been safer. And even though one hour doesn’t sound like much, given the intricacy of today’s sophisticated supply chains reducing the number of hours allowed would place a tremendous and unnecessary burden on companies to modify their operation. RILA also asserts that the CSA 2010 provision would have a detrimental effect on sustainability because more trucks would be needed to haul the same volume of goods and that would cause increased congestion.

“The proposed revisions to current hours-of-service rules would in reality cause more harm than good,” said Kelly Kolb, VP global supply chain Policy at RILA. “The most recent data from DOT shows that under the current system there have been significant gains in safety, making the trucking industry the safest it has ever been even as higher numbers of vehicles are on the roadway,” Kolb said. “Imposing these unnecessary changes deviates from the positive safety trends and sustainable advancements that the current system affords and comes at the expense of drivers and businesses, creating a string of future problems without making any valid improvements right now,” Kolb concluded.

In formal comments submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, RILA noted that the changes are ill-advised because they are coming at a time when economic development is at the forefront of the President Barack Obama’s agenda.

The group also cites an interesting statistic regarding the impact of congestion, a particularly timely point given recent trends in crude prices.

“On December 2009, DOT cited traffic congestion being an $87.2 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy, with 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons of fuel spent sitting in traffic,” according to RILA. “Those figures can only go up if the proposed rulemaking is set into place.”

RILA member companies are forecasting an increase to their private and dedicated fleets of around 15% to service their stores effectively. Since freight and passenger vehicles share common infrastructure, this expected road congestion would lead to additional safety concerns not only for truck drivers, but for all traffic on the roadways, while also adding additional stress to our already struggling national infrastructure, according to the trade group.

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