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WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation warned federal transportation officials that transportation costs would increase by up to 20% in some cases if a proposal to limit the number of hours truck drivers spend behind the wheel each day goes into effect.
In addition to dramatically increasing costs, the safety proposal also would make highways a little less safe for the general public by putting more trucks on the road during the most congested hours, the NRF argued.
“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,” stated NRF SVP government relations David French. “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. In addition, 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.”
Proposed changes would increase transportation costs by anywhere from 3% to 20% depending on a specific retailer’s supply chain network and operations, French said. Retailers already are talking about passing along projected 1% inflationary cost increases to the consumer, and the thinking goes that this cost increase would be passed along as well.
French’s remarks came in comments filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in response to a proposal that potentially would decrease the current 11-hour on-duty “hours of service” limit for drivers, in effect since the beginning of 2004, to a 10-hour limit. In addition, the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving now would have to include at least two midnight-to-6 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.
Supporters of the proposal said it would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But NRF is concerned that shortening the daily driving limit would require more drivers and more trucks to move the same volume of goods during the same time period.