The Interstate Commerce Commission yesterday proposed some significant new regulations that would allow trucking companies to serve temporarily any intermediate points on their authorized routes.
The proposal is designed to reduce energy consumption by truckers during the winter months when demand is greatest for supplies of middle distillates for diesel fuel and heating oil, and at the same time assure adequate transportation services during the current fuel shortage.
Under current regulations, trucking companies which haul general commodities are authorized by the ICC to pick up and deliver freight at specific cities along designated routes. Often, they aren't permitted to stop at intermediate points along those routes which may be served by different trucking firms.
Precluding truckers operating over a specific route from picking up or delivering goods along the way means that a second truck must travel over essentially the same route, duplicating mileage, to serve those locations, the ICC complained yesterday. The practice results in "overall inefficient operations and needless fuel consumption," it said.
Although the agency said it was impossible to quantify exactly how much fuel is being wasted by the current restrictions, it said that generally accepted assumptions about the trucking business suggested proposed temporary rule has the potential for "vast savings" in energy.
If just 5 percent of the freight that is now being handled by more than one carrier -- because one of them lacks certain route authority -- could be handled directly by just one as an intermediate drop-off on its normal regular route, almost 2 million gallons of fuel a year could be saved, the ICC said.
Under the ICC proposal, trucking companies would be able to serve all points along their routes for 180 days. The commission also said it would consider later lifting the restrictions on intermediate point service permanently.
A source at the ICC said the agency didn't believe the proposal conflicted with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Howard Cannon's warning not to make any permanent changes in trucking regulation until after Congress has a chance to act. The proposal would just be for a temporary period while a serious energy crisis exists, he said. the commission's vote on the proposal was 7 to 0.
In related developments yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved two measures that would affect the trucking industry. Two separate measures, both approved on votes of 12 to 0, would:
Revise and reduce regulation of the household goods moving industry. The bill would ease entry by new companies into the industry; give movers some flexibility to raise or lower rates without ICC interference; establish a new mechanism for binding settlement of consumer claims against carriers; increase civil penalties for violations of ICC regulations; and establish a criminal penalty for "weight bumping," the practice of intentionally falsifying the weight of a shipment of household goods.
Strengthen federal safety regulation of trucks and buses to try to stem the steadily rising death rate on the highway as a result of accidents involving heavy trucks and buses.