New DOT Regulations May Add to Distributor Costs

Mike Marks: A new rule taking effect July 1 'structurally adds costs to everything.'

New Department of Transportation rules taking effect in July could mean additional costs for distributors, according to Mike Marks of Indian River Consulting Group. A set of DOT rules redefining off- and on-duty time for commercial drivers have been in effect since February, and a second set of guidelines aimed at reducing driver fatigue will go into effect July 1. But the impacts won't be isolated to trucking companies.

One rule going into effect outlines mandatory rest breaks for drivers. According to the DOT, drivers cannot exceed an eight-hour driving stretch without taking a 30-minute break.

Some hope it will mean less fatigue-related accidents, but a pending lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals shows that some feel the benefits of the new rules don’t outweigh the added expense. The American Trucking Association estimates that the cost of training drivers on the regulations, as well as software reprogramming and related costs, could add up to as much as $320 million before July 1.

“What that means for distributors is that their inbound freight costs have just gone up, and their outbound freight costs have gone up as well,” Marks says.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published The Hours of Service of Drivers Final Rule at the close of 2011.

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