One of the most regulated industries in the United States is
over-the-road trucking. Nearly anything you have in your house, from
light bulbs, to toilet paper, to your flat-screen television, was
delivered to where you bought it by truck – indeed, 70 percent of all
goods travel by truck. And every year, more regulations are piled on top
of one of the key industries for the American economy.
As President Barack Obama is touring the country touting his so-called jobs bill, he’s not talking about one of the largest job killers facing American industry — regulation.
Regulations are keeping new drivers off the roads — and if fewer big
rigs on the road sounds like a good thing to you as a private driver,
keep in mind there already are far fewer truck drivers than are
currently needed to sustain the volume of goods being transported. Regulations which are often written by people with no idea of the
realities of the road — not one sitting congressman has ever been an OTR
truck driver — are often impractical at best. At worst, they are
impossible to follow.
The Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service
regulation, written to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, is
one example. The rule says CMV drivers may only work 14 hours a day — 11
actually driving — and the driver must keep a logbook of the total
hours spent driving and resting. It sounds sensible, but the regulation
doesn’t account for the reality of the road.
Part of the change comes from special interest lawsuits, and not from
listening to actual truck drivers. For example, as a result of a 2009
Big Labor-backed sue-and-settle agreement, the Obama Department of Transportation may make the Hours of Service rule even less reality-based.
The Obama administration has 4,225 new federal regulations in the pipeline, 219 of which carry an annual cost of $100 million or more.
All of which will fall most heavily on the small businesses least
equipped to handle them – and, just as damaging, on consumers.
Businesses are forced to pass on compliance costs, and they generally
add a small “fudge factor” to make sure they’ve covered all costs. Which means the 70 percent of goods which travel by truck cost more every time Washington tacks on a regulation.
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