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Driven Mad: Trucking Industry Collapsing Under Regulation

Foolish laws are hampering America's lifeblood industry, and making drivers more tired to boot.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

September 23, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Meyer also complained about the hours-of-service regulations, noting his truck is his only transportation. He’s based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but he lives in Northern Arizona — a bit over 12 hours away. But according to the regulations, even after he’s dropped his trailer and is heading for home he can’t legally drive all the way home without stopping to rest — something any private citizen in a car can do without question:

I can’t drive down there legally, to go by those rules. You can run out of time on your log book 10 minutes from town, and you’re not legal to drive on home.

In the dispatch, AJC noted something similar:

An unintended consequence of the well-intentioned Hours of Service rule is that drivers actually may be more fatigued on the road during the day.

“With the logging system, you can’t go in in the afternoon and take a nap without it counting against your time,” Grove said. “Before they changed this, you could stop and break your hours up. You could take a nap.”

Part of the change comes from special interest lawsuits, and not from listening to actual truck drivers. For example, as a result of a 2009 Big Labor-backed sue-and-settle agreement, the Obama Department of Transportation may make the Hours of Service rule even less reality-based.

Meanwhile, job creators like Western HiWays hang in the balance. Grove said the problem is that no one in Washington really understands the problems of the industry:

“I think — and it’s not just in trucking, it’s in anything,” said Mr. Grove. “Anybody can read a book. You can go to college and still be an idiot. … [Washington] needs to get out and, and get in the trucks and experience what actually all happens. I don’t think they’ve taken the time to come out here and see what it’s really like,” he added, slowly shaking his head.

Meyer agreed:

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We have a better safety record than any public utility and fire departments and police departments. The politicians have never done anything that remotely resembles common sense, they always go off the deep end: “If a little bit of regulation of this is good then a whole lot oughta be better” — but that’s not necessarily so.

AJC noted the Obama administration has 4,225 new federal regulations in the pipeline, 219 of which carry an annual cost of $100 million or more. All of which will fall most heavily on the small businesses least equipped to handle them – and, just as damaging, on consumers. Businesses are forced to pass on compliance costs, and they generally add a small “fudge factor” to make sure they’ve covered all costs.

Which means the 70 percent of goods which travel by truck cost more every time Washington tacks on a regulation.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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