MEMPHIS, TN – Anytime you buy produce at the grocery store, a candy bar at the corner convenience store or even a car, chances are it was delivered by truck. Now, proposed new regulations could affect those deliveries and your bottom line.
Those new rules would cut back on the weekly hours a truck driver could be behind the wheel, dropping them from 82 to 70.
It’s all being done in the name of safety, but that safety could come at a cost to you.
“That’s about a 17 percent cut in available hours that a driver can operate,” said Joel Henry, President of Intermodal Cartage Company.
The new trucking rules affect all truckers’ bottom lines. The 34 hour re-start is at the heart of it all.
“What that’s going to require,” said Dan Pallme of the University of Memphis Transportation Institute, “is that the driver actually take 34 consecutive hours off.”
That means most truckers would shut down from noon Saturday until just before midnight Sunday. That costs them money, but there is more than money involved.
“The main goal for us and for any trucker that cares about it is to be safe,” Henry told abc24.com.
A 2007 change in trucking rules resulted in a 50 percent reduction in major accidents, but as for the proposed new rules, Henry sees “no additional impact. Pretty much we feel like the system we have today is keeping drivers safe.”
Obviously a huge amount of trucking takes place in Memphis. The new regulations could have far-reaching affects.
Pallme said, “I think the Chamber of Commerce stated that ten percent of the employment in the City of Memphis is geared toward the transportation industry.”
Even though the new rules could shrink the truckers’ bottom lines, not all drivers are against them.
“From my point of view it’s a good thing to have, due to safety purposes,” driver Michael Dennis told abc24.com.
But, what that 17 percent cutback in hours of service means to you could be higher prices.
“Oh absolutely,” said Henry. “If they lose 17 percent of their salary we’ll have to go to our customers for that compensation. Our customers are going to have to pass it on."
That means to the consumer, and that means to you.
The new regulations are scheduled to go into affect at the end of February, but Pallme expects litigation from the trucking industry could cause delays.
Meanwhile, Henry said his drivers' logs and hours of service are computerized in the cabs of their trucks, placing them among the top four percent of safest drivers in the industry.