New US trucking regulations could harm petchem industry: expert

14 November 2013 22:58  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Changes to the federal government’s “hours of service” regulations for truck drivers would harm drivers as well as the petrochemical industry, a trucking expert said Thursday.

Bob Costello, chief economist and vice president for the American Trucking Assocations (ATA), the national trade association for the trucking industry, said regulating the amount of time drivers are required to work does more harm than good in the long term.

“We have been supportive of changes in work hours for truck drivers in the past,” Costello said. “(But) now, today, we think the tweaks are counterproductive. For one thing it’s going to put more trucks on the road, not less.”

More trucks on the road will contribute to the trucking industry’s upcoming “capacity crunch,” Costello added. Costello said the trucking industry is about to be hit with a twofold issue: a large segment of retiring drivers and a lack of suitable replacements.

Costello was a speaker at a luncheon hosted by the Southwest Chemical Association.

Among the changes to the law, the updated regulations require frequent rest breaks for drivers.

The new regulations apply to drivers and motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The biggest change in the law is that drivers are not allowed to log, in a seven-day period, more than 70 hours of both working and driving. The law also limits when a driver can “restart” their schedule. One change requires that the restart break includes two consecutive overnight rest periods from 1:00 to 5:00 hours.

Costello said those changes could affect the drivers' sleep and rest patterns, requiring drivers who were previously working night shifts into working a day shift. Costello also said that companies will be forced to hire more drivers, which will affect proft margins.

The new regulations took effect on July 1.

Sources in both the petrochemical and distribution sectors have said the new regulations will have a broad-reaching affect on the industry. Among the concerns, the new law could create problems with transporting hazardous material, sources said.

By: Andrew Guy Jr
+1 713 525 2653

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