ARLINGTON, Va. — National Grocers Association and Food Marketing Institute, both based here, have joined several other associations and supply-chain companies in opposing new restrictions on truck drivers set to take effect next year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a new rule last year that reduces the number of hours a truck driver can work in a week, and sets new minimums for truckers’ rest periods.
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Peter J. Larkin, NGA president and chief executive officer, said NGA is supporting an amici curiae brief filed in support of the American Trucking Association's legal challenge to the rule, explaining, "The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration clearly failed to take into account critical information such as costs on the entire supply chain that NGA and others provided in public comments."
The rule, set to take effect next July, reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new hours-of-service final rule limits a driver's work week to 70 hours.
In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit.
The rule also requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights' rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. as part of the rule's "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
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Larkin said provisions like the 34-hour restart “would add tens of thousands and in some cases millions in new costs on wholesale operations and would unnecessarily place more trucks on the road during peak driving hours."
NGA also said it supports maintenance of the 14-hour driving windows and the 11-hour daily driving requirement, which is being challenged by Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization.
FMI said its members estimate that the proposed changes would increase their transportation costs by 10% to 20% depending upon their operations, store locations and distribution network, "which will be a factor in price increases for groceries at the retail level."
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