by Tony Kurdziel, Business Development Manager
The staffing shortage for long-haul truckers has been well documented since the mid-2000s. Combine this with a sputtering national economy, unpredictable fuel costs and a constantly evolving regulatory environment, and it has added up to trying times for the trucking industry. An important new regulatory deadline from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is fast approaching and will most certainly force additional change in this industry.
Effective July 1, 2013, the maximum amount of time that a commercial motor vehicle driver can work in one week will go from 82 hours to 70 hours. It will also prohibit truck drivers from driving more than eight hours without taking a break of at least thirty minutes. These two major changes, along with other provisions of this law, are intended to reduce driver fatigue and make the roads safer.
What economic development ramifications (if any), will develop from these changes? When added to the current strains on the trucking industry, will companies be forced to shift their supply chains? For example, will manufacturers look to concentrate vendors and suppliers even closer to production points? Will distribution centers move closer to their end markets? And finally, will this cause more consolidation in the trucking industry, placing more traffic on capacity-constrained rail lines? If so, how will the rail industry be able to absorb the different shippers that approach them?
The next few years should be quite interesting for the commercial transportation business, especially if the global economy recovers in a meaningful way.