DALLAS. Dan England, chairman of C. R. England and the incoming chairman of the American Trucking Assns., said he would use his new platform to vigorously oppose any changes to the current hours-of-service regulations.

Speaking to a small group of ATA members at a reception to welcome him to the association’s chairmanship, England said that opposition would, if necessary, include legal challenges to new HOS rules that might shorten drivers’ working hours or productivity.

A final rule on truck driver hours of service is due before Oct. 28. The proposed rule would limit truck drivers to driving only 10 hours in a 24-hour period rather than the current 11 hours. Other proposed changes to restart and rest requirements would further reduce the allowable driving time of commercial truckers.

Herb Schmidt, president of Con-way Truckload said that company calculated the impact on its fleet’s operations, a fleet comprised of roughly 2,600 trucks and 8,000 trailers, should the rules change.

“To get a realistic view of how these rule changes would affect us, we took all of our data from October 2010 — logbooks and actual freight hauled — and then recalculated it using the proposed 10-hr. daily driving limit instead of the current 11-hr. limit,” he said.

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The results were startling. In order for the fleet to carry the same amount of freight under a 10-hr. drive time limit, it would need a 4 to 5% larger fleet. That translates into an additional 104 to 130 units, not to mention drivers to pilot them. But it’s not just the cost of acquiring extra rolling stock that’s the problem, said Schmidt, a cost that isn’t small as the average sticker price of a Class 8 tractor has increased between 22 and 25% since 2002 due to the implementation of engine emissions control mandates. No, the serious problem with proposed HOS changes in Schmidt’s view derives from what he calls “the laws of unintended consequences” from such change.

“Putting 4 to 5% more trucks on the road will lead to more accident exposure, more congestion on already overcrowded roads, and more consumption of diesel fuel, just to name a few of the impacts,” he said.