Wal-Mart Pushes for Longer Trucker Hours

Recently, retail giant Wal-Mart has been lobbying Congress to extend the work day of truckers from a 14 hour work day to a 16 hour day. The proposed 16 hour day comes from truckers complaining of never having time to take a break, eat or even wait for their trucks to be loaded and unloaded. Current regulation requires truckers to have a 14 hour day. This includes 11 hours of consecutive truck driving, with a three hour mandated break. The reason Wal-Mart is pushing for a longer day is that truckers currently don't get paid to wait at the loading dock while their trucks are loaded. Extending the day would give the truckers more time to drive during the day, but it would also give them more time to wait at the dock while they aren't getting paid. This gives Wal-Mart the best of both worlds they have their drivers on the road longer and they are still not paying them to wait at the docks. This is the main argument of people who oppose the proposed legislation. The whole idea seems obsurd to me. Giving truckers more time to be on the road will only make them more weary, and tired. This could lead to more accidents on our highways, making it unsafe for people to be on the road. I really don't see how allowing truckers more time on the road can benefit everyone.

1 comment:

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Drake's post for a spelling error.

This probably isn't a good thing, but it does make economic sense. The reason is that driving is a marginal cost for Wal-Mart, while loading and unloading are fixed costs (with respect to a particular shipment). What they want to do is reduce those fixed costs per truckload as much as possible, and that means keeping the drivers on the road.

Unfortunatly, our societies response to problems like this is backwards. The drivers and Wal-Mart both want to stay on the road, and the rest of us want them to take breaks and be better drivers. But our approach to this is all stick: punish drivers who have accidents and companies that push them. It would seem to me that if we really wanted drivers off the road that we'd be willing to pay for it. Why are there no organizations collecting money to buy drivers time to make them happy with less hours? My guess is that people are not quite as worried about this as they claim to be.