Eyeing the concerns of independent operators, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) Feb. 17 introduced legislation that directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to study how much time truckers are forced to wait at loading docks and to establish a maximum number of hours drivers may be detained without compensation.
“Over the years I’ve heard anecdotes from truck drivers that detention time is a big problem and contributes significantly to inefficiencies in the supply chain productivity,” DeFazio said. “I asked (Government Accountability Office) GAO to study detention time and quantify the results. It’s clear from the report that detaining truckers at loading docks is a significant problem that FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) needs to regulate.”
The legislation, H.R. 756, would require shippers and receivers to pay a fee for detention of drivers beyond the time established by USDOT and authorize civil penalties against shippers for failure to pay for unreasonable detention time.
As the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio held hearings where independent operators commented about the time and productivity lost at loading docks. Often, drivers said they are forced to wait hours before a shipment is ready for pickup or unloading. A 2009 study conducted by the FMCSA calculated that waiting for loading and unloading cost carriers over $3 billion dollars annually.
Through driver interviews, the GAO found that detention time affects drivers’ ability to make a living, has an impact on hours-of-service and hampers owner-operators more than company drivers.
According to the GAO:
• Among more than 300 drivers interviewed by GAO, 68 percent reported being detained within the past month.
• 80 percent of drivers that had experienced detention time reported that being detained impacted their ability to meet hours of service requirements.
• 65 percent of drivers reported lost revenue due to being detained.
• Shippers and receivers control many factors that lead to driver detention, such as facility staffing, lack of loading or unloading equipment, poor service and products not ready for pick up.
• Shippers often disagree with carriers and drivers about the amount of detention time and some motor carriers choose not to collect detention fees from their customers.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the bill would make shippers and receivers accountable for their role in hampering productivity in the transportation supply chain. “In a just-in-time, deregulated industry, trucking has de-evolved to where truckers are donating their time to the benefit of shippers and receivers. The problem persists because it doesn’t cost shippers or receivers to squander drivers’ time,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
OOIDA said its surveys indicate as many as 40 hours per week are spent by drivers waiting to be loaded or unloaded.