November 2, 2005

Cutting Idle Exhaust

Good news for the environment; bad news for people who use idling trucks as an excuse for anti-Wal-Mart NIMBYism:

In a settlement with nationwide impact, officials from Wal-Mart, the country's largest retailer, have agreed to pay $50,000 in fines and equip the company's big-rig fleet with portable generators after a federal investigation found their trucks idling illegally last year in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Under the pact, announced yesterday by the New England Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Wal-Mart will install generators in each of the company's roughly 6,500 semi-trailers, a spokesman for the retailer said yesterday.

Now, I'm not certain what type of generator Wal-Mart has in mind, but I gather it is still an engine just a cleaner-burning engine than the one used to drive the rig. Anybody have details?

Posted by Kevin at 8:26 AM

August 21, 2005

Truckers Legal Hours Increased

The Bush Administration has decided to extend legal trucker hours. There are two relevant changes:

For 60 years, truckers could drive for 10 consecutive hours. On Jan. 1, 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration changed the rule to allow them another hour behind the wheel.

A federal court, however, threw out the changes.

On Friday, the truck-safety agency announced that a revision to the rule would still allow the big rigs to roll for 11 hours, three hours more than safety advocates say they should.

And...

The Bush administration also announced a new set of rules for truck drivers who travel less than 150 miles in a day and don’t need a commercial driver’s license.

Those drivers, who typically work for retailers and small package-delivery companies, would be partially exempt from the 14-hour workday. For two days a week, they could work 16-hour days, including breaks.

Wal-Mart and other retailers have lobbied Congress to extend the workday for truckers to 16 hours, something labor unions and safety advocates say would make roadways more dangerous for all drivers.

Some members of Congress had a similar proposal, but the legislation was withdrawn in March when safety advocates and unions representing truckers opposed it.

As noted before, truckers themselves have a mixed opinion on the matter.

I'm not sure how they came to this figure, or if they did a cost-benefits analysis:

She said the rule, which will take effect Oct. 1, will cost long-haul trucking companies $10 million and save short-haul companies $280 million.
How much will Wal-Mart profit? How much will consumers save?

Posted by Kevin at 9:54 AM

May 6, 2005

Hours of Service Issue

Trucker Dick Williams has a conflicting first-hand opinion on the failure of Wal-Mart to get changes in permissible trucking hours:

Congress just agreed to stay out of the Hours of Service issue - there was a proposal and potential House amendment that would have liberalized the Hours of Service - permitted more on duty time - mainly an initiative by a Wal-Mart friendly Rep from Arkansas. But he didn't push the amendment and Congress stayed out of directly writing trucking regs. Wal-Mart was unhappy, the Teamsters and traffic safety folks were happy. Guess I was happy too in the interest of common sense but I would actually like to see one additional hour of on duty time - total of 15 versus 14 hours. That would fit my particular needs and allow an additional hour of on-d uty non driving time for more flexibility in napping. But it would be abused - heck we abuse the hours now. Sort of like setting a speed limit at 70 to keep people under 80.

Posted by Kevin at 4:55 PM