Saturday, 5 February 2011

Keep on truckin

Proposed new rules for US truckers (announced by the Transportation Department in December) could cut an hour of driving time per day for the nation’s 1.6 million long-haul truck drivers. Truckers would also have to take breaks after driving seven consecutive hours and wouldn’t be allowed to work as many consecutive days of long shifts as they may now. 

As you can imagine, there is vocal oppostion to the proposals calling them anti-productive.

Here is where debate starts. Do we prioritise economic productivty at the risk of safety or driver well-being? Is there any evidence that these proposals will reduce accidents (involving truckers and others) ... or improve the health & well-being of truckers.

I don't have answers. I'm just pointing out that decisions we take have both intended and unintended consequences ... and that productivity is a complex issue, moderated by a host of other factors.

Of course I would feel diffferently depending on whether I was a trucker (and especially the wife of a trucker) or an employer of truckers. So, let the debate run .... perhaps Amercia is moving to tougher legislation .... bringing it in line with the EU.

Is it also moving to lower productivity. Its too early to tell ... people find all sorts of ways to improve productivity. The direct productivity of drivers may go down (though tired drivers are probably not all that productive) but what matters is the productivity of trucking operations ... and that can be affected by all sorts of other factors ... including technology ... and innovation. So, let's see how the trucking operators solve the conundrum ... and move to a state of higher productivity AND safer trucking.

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