Getting Best Rates for Hazmat Shipments as New Hours of Service,Retiring Drivers Further Limit Capacity

May 3rd, 2012 - by andrewh

As chemical shippers compete for limited truck driver and asset availability to transport hazmat materials, new hours of service regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration restrict driver time behind the wheel in an effort to ensure greater safety on the roads.   Effective February (with a compliance date of July, 2013), the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week is now 70 hours, a reduction of 15% from 82 hours.

These new driving restrictions further reduce transportation capacity for chemical shippers not only as truckers drive less, but many will leave the business as they make less money.  With the average age of a truck driver around 55, many also will retire within the next decade without a sufficient replacement of younger drivers.  As a result of truck driver shortages, available carriers for hazmat will start charging more for shipments.   But transportation costs are not totally out of your control.

Getting the best rates for hauling hazmat materials often depends on doing your homework and understanding your options when contracting rates.   While you can establish a hazmat fee as part of your line haul charges, shippers who transport both hazmat and non-hazmat products should obtain quotes shipping non-hazmat materials and then add on a hazmat accessorial charge.  Sometimes, a carrier may suggest a rate that allows you to move both hazmat  and non-hazmat product; but you end up paying too much as you are charged the same rate for non-hazmat loads.  Optimally, it makes more sense to ask for a non-hazmat rate and negotiate a hazmat accessorial fee when applicable.

When negotiating rates, contact at least five carriers and compare costs and contract requirements.  If you find a preferred carrier is more expensive than their competitors, use your market intelligence (competitor rates) to negotiate a better rate.

Don’t have the resources or time to identify and evaluate new potential carriers?  A third-party logistics provider (3PL) specialized in your industry can offers the contract expertise, market intelligence and carrier relationships to establish the best fees for your transportation requirements.  To find out more about Benchmarks and Freight Procurement, refer to the ChemLogix section of the CLX web site at


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