Mandated Pay for Excess Detention Time for Truckers

February 23, 2011

Today, the premier online site to find trucks for sale, Trucker to Trucker looks at Peter DeFazio's Excess Detention Time Bill:

A new bill has been introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) which aims to compel the US Department of Transportation to conduct studies into detention practices within the trucking industry. The bill acts as an adjunct to the proposals for the Hours of Service rules which are being promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).

We've posted on the proposed FMCSA HOS rule changes recently, and one of the major issues is the impact of detention time being taken into account. Excessive detention time hits truckers hard in both financial terms, and in respect of the impact it has upon triggering restart times under the HOS rules. It is a bane of every trucker's life to be kept hanging around waiting to offload or to pick up, not least because it is considered as "work time" by the HOS rule makers and cannot be used to count towards rest time.

DeFazio's law will not only require USDOT to conduct studies into detention times and the impact upon drivers generally, but it will also require the establishment of maximum detention time that can be incurred before truckers are paid for the delay.

DeFazio noted that excessive detention delays entailed substantial trucking inefficiency within the logistic/supply chain industry. He became concerned enough to ask the Government Audit Office (GAO) to take a look into the problem and attempt to quantify the impact. That study found that 68% of interviewed drivers reported being detained within the last month and that 65% had lost money as a consequence of that delay. A massive 80% reported that they encountered difficulties complying with HOS rules as a consequence of the detention delay.

The GAO also discovered that primary responsibility for detention delay rested with shippers and receivers. There were a number of factors which led to detention delays, such as poor staffing levels, inadequate materials handling equipment and delays in cargo readiness. There was also considerable disagreement between carriers and shippers over levels of detention time, and in many instances fees were not collected from shippers because carrier companies did not wish to endanger the customer relationship.

DeFazio hopes that the new legislation will force shippers to be held to account for excessive detention time, and the negative impact this has on overall truck road safety. In addition, DeFAzio makes an excellent point in that trucker laws should not be treating drivers as hours and wage subjects – truckers work under hours of service rules, generally determined by mileage which is a more direct reflection of productivity rather than time on the job. Under the current and proposed HOS rules, there is nothing which ensures a driver will make a proper living even if they spend an entire day working.

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