May 18, 2011 3:15 PM, EDT

ATA Board Votes to Oppose Regulating Detention Times

TT File Photo

American Trucking Associations said its board of directors voted to oppose efforts at regulating detention times — the time drivers and trucks wait to load or unload their cargo.

“Federal regulation in this area would directly affect shipping rates and would significantly change the playing field for carriers and shippers,” ATA Chairman Barbara Windsor, CEO of  Hahn Transportation, New Market, Md., said in a statement late Tuesday following ATA’s executive meeting in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

“ATA and its members value the time of our drivers, [but] federal intervention into this area would have significant impacts on the contractual agreements between carriers and shippers,” said ATA President Bill Graves.

The Government Accountability Office said in January that 59% of drivers reported delays of more than two hours at freight terminals, making it hard for them to comply with federal rules on driving time, Bloomberg reported.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced legislation in February to give the Department of Transportation authority to set standards for waiting times and fine shippers for exceeding those limits.

“No carrier wants to see our drivers’ time wasted,” said ATA First Vice Chairman Dan England, chairman and president of Salt Lake City-based C.R. England Inc.

“However, this is not an issue that can be handled with a ‘one-size, fits all’ regulation and as a result is best addressed in contractual agreements between carriers and shippers,” England said

Last month, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committee recommended that FMCSA seek authority from Congress to impose penalties against shippers, receivers and brokers who “unduly detain” commercial vehicle drivers.