Government implements ‘Hours of Service’ trucking and hazmat rail regulations.
Safety in shipping took center stage in a pair of governmental actions last week.
U.S. Circuit Court Judge Janice Brown handed down a ruling Friday in the contentious “Hours of Service” case, upholding the bulk of the new trucking rules, but the struggle between motor carriers, and their supporters in Congress, against regulators and safety advocates is likely to continue down a bumpy road. Implementation of the Hours of Service requirements, which took effect in July, have raised concerns for profits at carriers, and viability of perishable shipments among shippers. Intended to reduce instances of driver fatigue, they have the potential to make delivering goods on time while maintaining lean inventories more difficult and costly for all shippers, particularly on long-haul routes.
Also on Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration issued an emergency order aimed at making the hauling of hazardous materials safer – “hazmats” in the trade – in the wake of last month’s deadly Quebec fuel train accident. The order forbids leaving materials including flammable liquids such as oil and ethanol unattended on main tracks or sidings without agency approval. The new rules track similar measures implemented by Canada.
Just as the Hours of Service will affect trucking as a whole, the new rail regulations have the potential to impact all rail shipping, as additional precautions taken with hazmats create a ripple effect. As always, the only factor we can be sure of with these latest changes in the logistics environment is that there will be more to come.