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New Safety Regulations Limit Hours for Truck Drivers

Balancing productivity with safety is always a challenge for trucking companies.

"We always want to make sure our drivers are safe and make sure that they take proper breaks," said Greg Payne, support center manager with Transport America Trucking Company.

Now, that balancing act may have gotten a little more difficult after the federal government implemented new rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers can be on the road.

The new regulations going into effect this week.

The rules require all truck drivers to take a 30-minute break every eight-hour stretch. Drivers are also limited to the amount of time they can drive between 1 and 5 a.m.

While Payne doesn't anticipate significant changes for his company, he says his drivers will lose time on the roads, hurting productivity.

"It adds cost because drivers won't be able to do all of their 11 to 14 because they need to be taking the break," Payne said.

Researchers say those lost hours add up for companies.

"They may add up to a 2 percent, 4 percent, some sort of cost increase to a company," said Ann Campbell, associate professor of management sciences at the University of Iowa. "They have to make that money back somewhere, so they're going to probably charge a little bit more for their services."

Those added costs will likely be passed on to consumers, although many believe it won't be much.

"This change impacts the things that are traveling a long way across the country," Campbell said. "A big example of that would be groceries. Groceries could maybe go up by a few cents."

While some trucking companies we spoke with off camera are unhappy with the changes, the goal is to keep tired drivers off the road.

As research has shown, a drowsy driver is a dangerous one.

"Whether it's a truck driver or a passenger vehicle driver, if you're drowsy, your performance on the road degrades," said Tim Brown, a researcher with the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator.

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