Florida Retailer Tells Congress Shorter Hours for Truck Drivers Would Increase Costs and Congestion Rather Than Improve Safety
WASHINGTON, November 30, 2011 – A Florida furniture store executive testifying on behalf of the National Retail Federation told a congressional panel today that a proposal to limit the time truck drivers spend behind the wheel would increase costs while undermining intended safety benefits by putting more trucks on the road.
“Badcock, NRF and its members strongly support the current hours-of-service regulations and question the need to make changes,” W.S. Badcock Corp. Director of Logistics Frank Miller said. “Removing the current rules and reverting back to the old rules or some variation thereof would result in significant cost increases for the industry as a whole and would adversely impact the U.S. economy across all sectors.”
Miller is scheduled to testify this morning at a subcommittee hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposal to reduce the current 11-hour “hours of service” daily limit for drivers to a 10-hour limit. Under the proposal, the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving would also have to include at least two midnight-to-6 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.
Supporters of the proposal say it would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But Miller said shortening the daily driving limit would require more drivers and more trucks to move the same volume of goods during the same time period. That would increase congestion on the nation’s already overcrowded highways, increasing the potential for accidents. Retailers are also concerned about the requirement for nighttime rest periods because retailers use overnight deliveries extensively in order to avoid daytime road congestion, particularly in urban areas, he said.
“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,” Miller said. “They have been able to work with their transportation providers to appropriately plan for the safe and efficient delivery of goods to their distribution centers and retail stores with a significantly high on-time delivery rate. Any change to this daily driving limit will upset the careful balance and efficiencies that have been achieved and require changes to current systems and processes.”
Miller said there is “significant evidence” that the 11-hour limit has improved highway safety since it took effect in 2004, citing an FMCSA study that found a 31 percent decline in fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2007 to 2009.
Miller said the proposed changes would drive up transportation costs for his company’s chain of 300 furniture stores in eight southeastern states by as much as 20 percent, or $2.8 million annually. The company, based in Mulberry, Fla., owns 45 tractor-trailers than travel more than 4 million miles annually plus a fleet of delivery trucks.
As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. www.nrf.com