NRF welcomes federal decision to allow truck drivers to continue driving 11 hours/day, but expresses concern for longer weekly breaks, says new regulations will drive up costs, make highways and streets more dangerous

WASHINGTON , December 22, 2011 (press release) – The National Retail Federation welcomed today’s decision by federal regulators to allow truck drivers to continue driving 11 hours a day, but expressed concern over a new requirement for longer weekly breaks.

“We’re pleased that regulators have seen the wisdom of keeping the current 11-hour limit, but longer overnight breaks create the potential for more big trucks to be mixing with passenger cars during congested daylight hours,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said. “These new regulations will still drive up costs for businesses and consumers while making our highways and city streets more dangerous rather than safer. This is a case where something that might sound good on paper doesn’t work in the real world.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today rejected a controversial proposal to reduce the current 11-hour “hours of service” daily limit for drivers to a 10-hour limit. But the agency adopted a proposal that the 34 hours of time off currently required between each week of driving include at least two 1 a.m.-5 a.m. periods of nighttime rest.

Supporters of the shorter daily limit and new weekly “restart” requirement have argued that they would result in fewer fatigued drivers on the road and help reduce accidents. But French said the 11-hour daily limit and existing weekly provision have improved highway safety since it took effect in 2004. Retailers also regularly use overnight deliveries in order to avoid delays and greater safety risks during daytime traffic.

“The current regulations have allowed U.S. retailers to achieve significant efficiencies within their supply chains and distribution networks while keeping safety as their top priority,” French said. “We believe the new restart requirement will have a significant impact on the industry, especially those who rely on overnight or early morning deliveries.”

NRF has led the retail industry’s efforts on the issue, and took a Florida retail executive to Capitol Hill last month to testify during a House hearing.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation. www.nrf.com

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