Are the Proposed Truck Driver Safety Regulations Unsafe?

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The U.S. Transportation Department has proposed new safety regulations that would limit truck drivers' hours to 10 hours per day, down from the current limit of 11 hours daily, and reduce their overnight shifts. But the National Retail Federation on Friday said the changes would not only raise business costs, but also would likely result in more -- not fewer -- collisions.

The proposed rules would increase the number of truck deliveries during the most congested hours, boosting transportation costs by as much as 20% because deliveries would take more time and, as a result, require more trucks for the same number of deliveries, the federation claims. Also, it adds, more wrecks would likely ensue.

"Any change to this daily driving limit will upset the careful balance and efficiencies that have been achieved and require changes to those new systems and processes," David French, the federation's senior vice president for government relations, said in a statement. "In addition, such changes could result in significantly higher transportation costs and could lead to less safety as additional drivers and trucks will be required to make up for the shortfall."

The Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed the limits in December in an effort to reduce the number of roadway collisions that may be caused by trucker fatigue. In 2008, trucks were involved in about 365,000 wrecks, about 1% of which involved fatalities. The safety administration, which has until July to issue the rules, in December estimated that fatigue causes between 2% and 13% of truck collisions.

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