Dig­i­tal reg­u­la­tion has US truck in­dus­try scram­bling

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

GREEN BAY: A new reg­u­la­tion that will force US truck­ing com­pa­nies to elec­tron­i­cally log em­ployee hours is de­signed to limit ac­ci­dents by keep­ing tired driv­ers off the road. It may also drive smaller truck­ing firms out of busi­ness. A truck­ing in­dus­try sur­vey ear­lier this year of mostly small op­er­a­tors found that 84 per­cent lacked elec­tronic logs, ac­cord­ing to load-match­ing firm truck­stop.com.

Pa­per logs al­low trans­port com­pa­nies al­ready fac­ing ra­zor thin mar­gins to fudge the books, boost­ing their hours on the road to help the bot­tom line. But a man­dated switch to a dig­i­tal sys­tem by late De­cem­ber 2017, reg­u­la­tors say, will boost safety by pre­vent­ing ex­hausted truck­ers from driv­ing. The Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FMCSA) fore­casts the reg­u­la­tion would save 26 lives per year and pre­vent 562 in­juries.

An FMCSA cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis found the new rule would cost truck firms $1.8 bil­lion across the sec­tor to im­ple­ment, but fewer crashes and less pa­per­work would save $3 bil­lion. In­dus­try ex­perts ar­gue that what­ever those sav­ings, the smaller firms and in­de­pen­dent owner op­er­a­tors that are the back­bone of a highly frag­mented mar­ket will take a pro­duc­tiv­ity hit, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pay off their trucks that have dou­bled in price since 2000. As a re­sult, small to mid-size truck­ing out­fits will need to find more driv­ers to haul the same amount of freight-and seek other ways to cut costs-in or­der to make it.

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