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NRF concerned over longer breaks for truck drivers

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation said it was pleased with the decision by federal regulators to allow truck drivers to continue driving 11 hours a day, but expressed concern over a new requirement for longer weekly breaks. 

“We’re pleased that regulators have seen the wisdom of keeping the current 11-hour limit, but longer overnight breaks create the potential for more big trucks to be mixing with passenger cars during congested daylight hours,” NRF SVP government relations David French said. “These new regulations will still drive up costs for businesses and consumers while making our highways and city streets more dangerous rather than safer. This is a case where something that might sound good on paper doesn’t work in the real world.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today rejected a controversial proposal to reduce the current 11-hour “hours of service” daily limit for drivers to a 10-hour limit. But the agency adopted a proposal that the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving include at least two 1 a.m.-5 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.

Supporters of the shorter daily limit and new weekly “restart” requirement have argued that they would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents, according to NRF. But French said the 11-hour daily limit and existing weekly provision have improved highway safety since it took effect in 2004. Retailers also regularly use overnight deliveries in order to avoid delays and greater safety risks during daytime traffic.

“The current regulations have allowed U.S. retailers to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks while keeping safety as their top priority,” French said. “We believe the new restart requirement will have a significant impact on the industry, especially those who rely on overnight or early morning deliveries.”