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June 12, 2017 7:00 PM, EDT

Report on Driver Delays Gets More Time to Be Completed

WASHINGTON — A congressionally mandated Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General audit of motor carrier delays in loading and unloading has been delayed until late summer or early fall, a top official with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said June 12.

In a presentation to FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, Robert Miller, director of the agency’s office of policy, strategic planning and regulation, said the IG’s office already has met with congressional transportation committees about the delay.

“Clearly the report is late, and Congress is aware of that,” Miller said. “The OIG had communication with Hill staffers early on, indicating that this is not an easy task.”

Miller added, “Congress was very receptive. They made it clear they would rather have a meaningful report than just have some piece of paper hit their desk within one year of enactment of the legislation.”

The requirement for the study was included in the 2015 FAST Act.

Miller said the data collection was more difficult than anticipated due to the IG’s use of an extensive modeling approach.

The IG’s statistical analysis is currently under peer review, he added.

Because drivers can work up to 14 hours a day, delays at shipping and receiving facilities during cargo loading and unloading may result in travel delays and lost wages.

“Truckers who experience these delays may then drive faster to make deliveries within hours-of-service limits or operate beyond these limits and improperly log their driving time, thus increasing the risk of crashes and fatalities,” the IG said in a memo last year outlining its plans for the audit.

The subject of driver delays has been on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s radar for years.

A December 2014 FMCSA study that measures driver delays indicated that they experienced an average duration of 1.4 hours of detention time on approximately 1 in every 10 stops, which represents the length of time the driver was at a shipper’s or receiver’s facility beyond the standard two hours of unloading/loading time.

“Thus, the driver was physically at that delivery location for 3.4 hours in total,” the study said.