While it may seem too far down the road to think about it will be upon us sooner than most people expect. As of July 2013 new regulations go into effect requiring truck drivers to utilize a 34 hour restart that includes two consecutive blocks of time between the hours of 1am and 5am. The impacts of this new rule are far reaching and are going to impact everyone in the country from the truck drivers who haul the freight to the everyday motorist on the way to work, right down to the consumers at the local retail stores……let’s take a look at the impact of this hasty decision to experiment with the Hours Of Service yet again.
Government studies have already shown that the time period when drivers seem to be less alert is within the first two hours of their shift. So if a driver is required to take a 34 hour restart that will end at 5am it then puts that driver on the road from 5-7am, now I don’t know where they got their idea from but the last time I checked prime rush hour times in most metro areas it included that time frame. It also creates a mass inflow of trucks into the already congested areas, so lets just use a little common sense here and look at the following equation:
More trucks during rush hour + less alert drivers of those trucks= nothing that looks like safer roadways!!!!
Wait……it doesn’t stop there, due to the overwhelming demand for “just in time freight” that this nations economy is currently based on, it also creates a logistical nightmare. Many drivers that used to be able to deliver freight in what is considered a “long haul” format will now be limited in that capacity as their round trip will now increase from 7 days to 10 days, the average 14 day trip now turns into 18-20 days out. The only way to circumvent the increased time frame and still get freight to the desired destination on time will be to put additional trucks and drivers on the road. Once you put more trucks on the road to deliver the same amount of freight already being delivered by one truck then you in turn raise the risk factors involved as I addressed earlier, however it brings us to another issue…….operating costs.
When you put more trucks on the road then you need to have manpower to operate them and manpower to keep them maintained properly and this leads to increased labor expenses, combine that with the additional expense of more trucks, trailers, equipment, and facilities to support the operation and you will very quickly see bank accounts becoming very light. Shall we move on to yet another problem with this plan?
How will the infrastructure of our country support this new requirement? Our own government has openly admitted that we currently do not have enough truck parking for the trucks that we already have using our roadways and we will be looking at another 3-5 years before they can even begin to address the problem in the real world. The highways and bridges that these trucks use on a daily basis will be subjected to twice the normal flow of commercial vehicles and will require repair and maintenance at an alarming rate as well as a significant cost to taxpayers to fund those repairs. The buck doesn’t stop there either, all of these additional costs have to be passed on to someone, the carrier has to expand a fleet and in turn has to raise rates accordingly as they are now paying two drivers instead of one and running twice as many trucks. So the manufacturers now see increased cost of manufacturing goods and they need to pass it on to retailers, your retailers have now experienced an increase of their overhead and need to pass it on to the consumer!!!.
So I am going to put it out there for all to see, Where in any part of this plan is this beneficial to safety? Where is it beneficial to taxpayers and consumers? Where is it benefiting anyone? I would like to see some answers from those on Capitol Hill that can possibly explain any of this.