Drivers’ time not valued, OOIDA says in detention time comments

September 9, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The current standard regarding detention time “completely discounts the value of a driver’s time,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told the FMCSA in formal comments submitted Monday, Sept. 9.

“Like all hard-working Americans, drivers want to receive fair compensation for the work they do,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “For decades, driver pay has been stagnant, making careers in trucking less appealing to new entrants and less sustainable for experienced truckers.

“Generally, if the truck’s wheels are not moving, drivers are not getting paid. As a result, many drivers spend countless unpaid on-duty hours being detained by shippers and receivers because Congress and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have failed to address excessive detention time.”

FMCSA published its request for information on June 10, asking for data on detention time and how it affects highway safety. The comment period was set to end Sept. 9. As of Monday afternoon, the agency had received nearly 550 comments.

“A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General found that better data are needed to fully understand the issues associated with driver detention,” the FMCSA notice stated.

In 2018, DOT’s Office of Inspector General reported that detention time increased crash risks and costs but that the current data limited further analysis. The report recommended that FMCSA collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze “reliable, accurate, and representative data on the frequency and severity of driver detention.”

Some of the findings from OIG’s report included that a 15-minute increase in time a truck spent at a facility increased the average expected crash rate by 6.2%, and that detention time costs for-hire truck drivers between $1.1 and $1.3 billion each year.

“These findings from the OIG report echo what OOIDA members have been dealing with for years,” OOIDA wrote.

The Association also noted that a survey from the OOIDA Foundation found that drivers are losing $865 to $1,500 each week from uncompensated detention time.

Last week, the American Transportation Research Institute reported that the problem with detention time has continued to increase. ATRI’s analysis, which is based on 1,900 truck driver and motor carrier surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018, found that across the four-year period, detention frequency and length has increased.

OOIDA said it is a problem that must be addressed.

“Although most drivers and owner-operators are weary of more regulations, several members have recommended introducing language into the federal regulations requiring either penalties for shippers, receivers, and carriers who do not compensate for detention, establishing a fixed hourly wage, or both,” OOIDA wrote. “Additional suggestions included removing or changing the hours-of-service regulations or eliminating the federal exemption on overtime for truck drivers.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.