New Driver Regulations Sent Holiday Chill through Trucking Industry

In a late-December announcement, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) gave the trucking industry what amounted to a lump of coal, when it finalized new rules that it claims will promote driver and highway safety.

FMCSA’s action, which takes effect in 18 months, will place tighter restrictions on the “restart provision,” that resets a driver’s clock following a designated period of rest. According to the Journal of Commerce, the new rule would cut weekly work time from 82 hours to 70 and require rest periods including the hours between 1 am and 5 am.

In a positive turn for the trucking industry, FMCSA opted not to proceed with a proposal to reduce the current 11-hour limit on daily driving.

However, industry groups were outraged by the changes to the restart provision, arguing that the change will reduce efficiency across their supply chains, complicate delivery schedules, and raise costs and possibly even increase incidences of highway accidents.

“This rule will put more truck traffic onto the roadways during morning rush hour, frustrate other motorists and increase the risk of crashes,” said American Trucking Association (ATA) President and CEO Bill Graves.

The National Retail Federation also expressed opposition:  “The current regulations have allowed U.S. retailers to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks while keeping safety as their top priority,” said David French, NRF senior vice president.  “We believe the new restart requirement will have a significant impact on the industry, especially those who rely on overnight or early morning deliveries.”

The ATA is considering legal action to try and prevent the rule changes from taking effect.  As currently written, the new rules will take effect in July 2013.