Still time to comment on detention time

September 3, 2019

Mark Schremmer


Nearly 500 truck drivers and other industry stakeholders have already provided comments to the FMCSA in response to the agency’s request for information regarding detention time. However, there is still time for other truckers to add their two cents’ worth on the issue.

The comment deadline is Sept. 9. FMCSA published its request for information on June 10, asking for data on detention time and how it affects highway safety.

“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.”

Among findings in OIG’s report:
A 15-minute increase in time a truck spent at a facility increased the average expected crash rate by 6.2%.
Detention time costs for-hire truck drivers between $1.1 and $1.3 billion each year.

The agency is asking stakeholders to answer seven questions:

  • Is 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?

As of Sept. 3, 488 comments had been filed. Many of the comments have been from truck drivers.

“Drivers should be paid detention pay after one hour, and the pay should be a minimum of $20 per hour,” wrote Matthew Mayfield. “This is reasonable, because most loads can be unloaded in an hour once the unloading/loading process starts.”

Others said fines should be levied against shippers and receivers who force drivers to wait for an excessive amount of time.

“Shippers and consignees who detain drivers should be fined very heavily and required to compensate drivers for their time,” wrote Benjamin Slayton. “I’ve been to many places … where I was held up for 6-7 hours.”

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.

Lucas Oil

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.