FMCSA Seeks Comment on Driver Detention Concerns

trucks at loading dock
Drivers wait in their cabs at a loading dock. (TT File Photo)

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking information regarding truck driver detention time during periods of loading and unloading.

7 Questions

According to the document, FMCSA is asking for information in response to seven specific areas:

  1.  Are data currently available that can accurately record loading, unloading and delay times?
  2. Is there technology available that could record and delineate prompt loading and unloading times versus the extended delays sometimes experienced by drivers?
  3. How can delay times be captured and recorded in a systematic comparable manner?
  4. Could systematic collection and publication of loading, unloading and delay times be useful in driver or carrier business decisions and help to reduce loading, unloading and delay times?
  5. What should FMCSA use as an estimate of reasonable loading/unloading time?
  6. How do contract arrangements between carriers and shippers address acceptable wait times? Do these arrangements include penalties for delays attributable to a carrier or shipper?
  7. What actions by FMCSA, within its current statutory authority, would help to reduce loading, unloading and delay times?

FMCSA is requesting information on sources of data that could lead to a better understanding of driver detention and its impact on road safety, according to a document published in the Federal Register on June 10.

“FMCSA is interested in data sources, methodologies and potential technologies that could provide insight into loading and unloading delays experienced by [commercial motor vehicle] drivers,” the Federal Register document states.

This request for information stems from a recent report from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, which found that there is a lack of sufficient data regarding driver detention issues. OIG’s report recommended that FMCSA officials work with industry representatives to develop a plan to collect and analyze data on the frequency and severity of driver detention.

The Federal Register document also notes a previous study from the Government Accountability Office issued in 2011 that recommended FMCSA study the extent to which detention time leads to hours-of-service violations. In response, FMCSA completed a study across a sample of carriers. The study found that drivers experienced detention time during approximately 10% of their stops for an average span of 1.4 hours more than the usual two-hour loading and unloading period.

However, the Federal Register document notes that these reports did not separate normal loading and unloading times (the time it would take to load and unload the truck under a typical schedule) from detention time (delays in the start of the loading and unloading process that would disrupt duty time.)

“This is a critical data gap in our understanding of the detention issue,” the document states.

The American Transportation Research Institute also has recommended further study on the safety and economic impacts of detention. Some 37% of the respondents who contributed to ATRI’s 2018 Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry study said researching the impacts of detention was a good strategy for addressing HOS challenges. HOS ranked No. 2 in ATRI’s report.

FMCSA will accept public comment through Sept. 9.

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