Safety has a cost, and when it comes to safety imposed by government regulation, it’s usually a cost ultimately born by consumers— you and me.
Take trucking, for example. The industry has been regulated in some way by the federal government since trucks were invented and first hit the road, but the regulations really began to multiply with the establishment of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) in 2000. The agency’s primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, fatalities and injuries, and one of the biggest changes it has imposed was the rule that put the brakes on driver operating hours.
Comparing apples to apples, the hours-of-service regulation has cut truck driver hours by about 10 percent since last year. That means that each individual driver, if he or she is following the rules and logging service hours accurately, is spending fewer hours on the job and getting more rest. That means that goods aren’t being moved as quickly by individual drivers and in the same quantities as they used to be. That means that trucking companies are having to put more trucks on the road and hire more drivers to maintain the service levels they had prior to the hours-of-service mandate. That means that transportation costs are going up, resulting in higher prices at the store or, in today’s world, on online shopping sites.
One of the things most people don’t realize is that the truck driver service-hours rule goes beyond the hours spent behind the wheel. It also includes the time truck drivers wait for goods to be loaded and unloaded from their trailers. In an effort to help transportation companies and their drivers, warehouse operations like Adams Cold Storage have moved to appointments to reduce driver wait times and have stretched warehouse operating hours. This has decompressed operations at many warehousing sites, and there’s a benefit to that. We’re all becoming more efficient.
As a result of safety-minded FMSCA, costs are going up for everyone, but, in the end, it’s likely the best buck spent.
column by BEN ADAMS JR.
BIO: Ben Adams Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multi-temperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.