HOS rule may affect economy: WSJ

NEW YORK, (Nov. 12, 2003) — The leading business publication of the mainstream media is now confirming what the trucking and shipping community has long been suggesting about the incoming hours of service rules for truck drivers: That the new HOS regime — which comes into effect on Jan. 4 — will impact the economy with higher rates and prices of goods on store shelves.

The Wall Street Journal weighed in on the issue, saying that while it’s hoped the new rules will increase road safety, they will also contribute to the biggest increase in trucking rates in two decades.

The new rules increase the time that truck drivers must set aside to rest in each 24-hour period to 10 hours from eight hours, and the total time a driver can be on duty will fall to 14 hours from 15 hours. More importantly, the new rules now require drivers to log waiting time at docks, warehouses, or at the border as on-duty work time, thus reducing how many potential driving hours in a single day.
Canada will implement similar rules next September.
The result will be higher rates to compensate for the lost driving time, or to hire team drivers. The government estimates the new rules could cost trucking companies about $1.3 billion a year.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which employs the largest private trucking fleet in North America, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the new rule. The company told the Journal that the more stringent 14-hour rule would reduce its drivers’ daily work time by 6 per cent on average and cause it to look for 275 new drivers for 300 new trucks to handle the same amount of cargo. The giant retailer expects the changes to cost it $24 million just for the additional trucks.

Such effects, of course, could be far-reaching adding to the cost of all general goods consumers pay for, which will in turn effect the economy, the WSJ commented.

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