Chemical shipper cooperation important for handling new HOS driver challenges
Mar 1, 2005 12:00 PM
SHIPPERS must recognize that they, too, are responsible for driver recruitment and retention, and create a place of business that is safe and efficient, said John A Gentle of Owens Corning and a committee chairman of the National Industrial Transportation League.
“Shippers have to accept the carrier's challenge and acknowledge that time is money,” Gentle said. “This is not the time for passivity.”
Gentle and Fulton Wilcox of Colts Neck Solutions discussed hours-of-service (HOS) regulations and their relationship to carrier/shipper operations at the Chemical Week Transportation and Distribution Conference January 13-14 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Gentle noted at the meeting that the new HOS rules have brought longer transit-to-market times, fewer round trips per day, increased trailer costs, and multiple-stop delivery complications — all elements that erode carriers' bottom lines.
Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is reconsidering its 2003 regulations after the HOS rules were voided by a federal court in July of 2004. The 2003 regulations remain in effect until September 30, 2005.
The court directed FMCSA to more specifically consider the rule impact on driver health, the allowable driving and sleeper birth times, and the 34-hour restart time. FMCSA also was ordered to revisit the costs for implementing electronic on-board recording devices.
Gentle said that carriers have been and will continue to seek out shippers that help them grow their companies, which includes understanding about meeting HOS regulations. Carriers will move away from shippers that do not share that view.
The need is for more collaboration between carriers and shippers, Wilcox said.
Gentle pointed out that rates are increasing because of carriers' costs associated with the HOS regulation, driver recruitment/retention, and new federal fees for hazmat driver background checks.
“In general, shippers must accept the carrier's challenge and acknowledge that time is money,” he said.
Drivers will continue to be discriminating in choosing their employers as the driver pool shrinks, he said. The situation is exacerbated by reduced driving time as a result of HOS rules (and less income as a result) and long wait lines for loading and unloading.
To expedite the operation he said that loading and unloading should be accomplished in one hour or less. He emphasized the importance of driver-friendly accommodations at the terminal.
At the same time, Gentle warned that more challenges are coming for the industry, listing public citizen advocacy and the need to maintain industry productivity.
He said that if the next round of HOS rules takes more driving time away from drivers, the impact on production capacity could be very significant.
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