More-stringent freight and trucking regulations have made the
United States less competitive for many industries, including
metals, and the newest limitations on truckers could cause a
5-percent drop in deliveries, according to executives in the
transportation and logistics sectors.
The newest trucking
regulationswhich require drivers to have longer breaks
between trips and log their own hourscompounded by an
overall driver shortage, have contributed to the recent lack of
freight availability, PLS Logistics Services Inc. director of
national accounts Jacque Morrow said at AMMs
Aluminum Summit in New York.
president of North Haven, Conn.-based United Aluminum Corp.,
agreed. Stricter trucking regulations have "raised rates and
now there is significantly less supply," he said. "The
restriction of drivers availability makes it harder to
hire drivers. This is a critical issue for aluminum."
There is currently
more product that needs to be delivered than there is the
capacity to deliver it due to the lack of truck drivers,
too-low weight limits for trucks and the need to reduce
congestion on major roads, Lapides said, noting that industry
leaders need to rally and contact local government
representatives to try to influence decisions on trucking
Lapides said that one
bill in particular the industry might want to weigh in on is
the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation
Equity Act, which sets policy for the countrys highway,
bridge and transportation system.
The newest version of
the legislation includes a provision that would increase the
current weight limit on trucks from a five-axle vehicle with an
80,000-pound capacity to a six-axle vehicle with a 97,000-pound
capacity, according to Lapides. If passed, the higher weight
limit would reduce congestion and save metal companies money by
allowing them to load more material onto a single vehicle, he
said, noting that the use of larger trucks would effectively
halve the number of trucks currently making deliveries on the
"It cuts into bridge
service costs and ups the maintenance life, but thats a
small price to pay to get goods to the market," he said.
Congestion and the
ratio of lane capacity to deliveries on the road are so bad
that if one particular bridge in the Northeast were shut down,
it would make the region completely inaccessible to shippers,
Congress and the U.S.
Department of Transportation are expected to undertake a study
on the effects of the heavier trucks, with results due by 2014,