Retailers warn economy will be slowed by new trucker scheduling rules

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“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,” Gold said.

He added that the new FMCSA rules “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,” Gold said.

When the new rules were finalized by Obama administration transportation officials last month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said they were an important step toward improving the safety of the national transportation system.

“Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked,” LaHood said in a statement in December. “This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely.”

Safety advocates have pushed transportation officials to also reduce the number of hours truckers may drive each day, but DOT chose to maintain the daily 11-hour limit on driving. Under the FMCSA proposal, however, truckers will be required to take a break of at least 30 minutes for every eight hours they drive.