FMCSA seeks input about truck drivers’ detention time

June 7, 2019

Mark Schremmer


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting information regarding driver detention times and how it affects roadway safety.

FMCSA submitted a request for information on Friday, June 7, that is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 10.

“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 notice stated.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office recommended that “FMCSA examine the extent to which detention time contributes to hours-of-service violations in its future studies on driver fatigue and detention time.”

FMCSA responded to the GAO report by sponsoring a study in 2014 among a sample of motor carriers. The study found that drivers experienced detention time during approximately 10 percent of their stops for an average duration of 1.4 hours beyond a commonly accepted two-hour loading and unloading period.

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.”

The agency is asking stakeholders to answer seven questions.

Are data currently available that can accurately record loading, unloading, and delay times?

  • Is there technology available that could record and delineate prompt loading and unloading times versus the extended delays sometimes experienced by drivers?
  • How can delay times be captured and recorded in a systematic, comparable manner?
  • 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?
  • What should FMCSA use as an estimate of reasonable loading/unloading time? Please provide a basis for your response.
  • 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?
  • What actions by FMCSA, within its current statutory authority, would help to reduce loading, unloading, and delay times?


Detention time is an issue the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been working to address for years.

“We are very appreciative that FMCSA is examining the issue, as it is a significant safety concern,” said Andrew King of the OOIDA Foundation. “We are glad to see that they are changing their view concerning detention time from a ‘market efficiency problem’ to a real issue that affects truckers every day.”

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.

A recent OOIDA Foundation survey of more than 1,250 truckers found that many believe detention time is an issued that negatively affects safety as well as their finances.

“Between 31% and 36% of OOIDA members spend 11 to 20 hours per week in detention, while 31% stated they lose three to four loads per month because of detention,” King said. “According to the Foundation’s estimates, this could equal $4,800 to $6,400 per month.”


Comments will be accepted until 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.

To submit comments, you can enter Docket Number FMCSA-2019-0054 at the website or mail Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation; Room W12-140; 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE; Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior 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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.