Retailers: Hours of Service Decision a Mixed Blessing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rejected a controversial proposal to reduce the current 11-hour “hours of service” daily limit for drivers to a 10-hour limit. But the agency adopted a proposal that the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving include at least two 1 a.m.-5 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.

Supporters of the shorter daily limit and new weekly “restart” requirement have argued that they would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But David French, senior vice president for Government Relations at the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted that retailers regularly use overnight deliveries in order to avoid delays and greater safety risks during daytime traffic.

“We’re pleased that regulators have seen the wisdom of keeping the current 11-hour limit, but longer overnight breaks create the potential for more big trucks to be mixing with passenger cars during congested daylight hours,” French said. “These new regulations will still drive up costs for businesses and consumers while making our highways and city streets more dangerous rather than safer. This is a case where something that might sound good on paper doesn’t work in the real world.”

“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,” French added. “We believe the new restart requirement will have a significant impact on the industry, especially those who rely on overnight or early morning deliveries.”

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