Congress, FMCSA recognize detention time as critical issue

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Even though no one has officially designated June as “Detention Time Awareness Month,” the issue has received plenty of publicity in recent weeks. First, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a request for information in the Federal Register concerning commercial motor vehicle driver detention times during loading and unloading.

The announcement references a 2011 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), titled “More Could Be Done to Determine Impact of Excessive Loading and Unloading Wait Times on Hours of Service Violations,” which recommended that the Secretary of the Department of Transportation direct FMCSA to further study the issue, in part through data collected from driver and vehicle inspections. It also references the 2014 study conducted by FMCSA in response to the GAO report to analyze the detention time issue. While both the GAO and FMCSA reports highlight the plague of detention time on drivers, both also note that not enough data has been collected to allow for definitive action on this matter. That is why FMCSA is now asking for more industry data to help formulate the agency’s response.

Second, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing on June 12 titled, “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America.” During this hearing, a source of broad consensus among the eight witnesses representing the industry was that detention time is a problem in desperate need of a solution.

Witnesses including American Trucking Associations President & CEO Chris Spear and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer told the members of the subcommittee about the detrimental impact detention time has for trucking companies and the drivers who are forced to wait at shippers’ and receivers’ facilities, thus losing productivity.

This recognition by Congress and FMCSA that detention time is a critical issue, and one for which we now have clear data about its many consequences, is a major step forward in solving the problem. Yet more work still needs to be done. TCA will submit comments on the open Federal Register Notice to support FMCSA’s activities to address detention time, and we encourage others in the truckload industry to do the same. We also encourage you to talk with your members of Congress and build upon the message sent at the recent House hearing. Lawmakers need to hear directly from their constituents about detention time and the impact it is having on your business.

For TCA members, take the opportunity to join us in Washington, DC, on September 25th for our Third Annual Call on Washington to be the Voice of Truckload and reinforce your support of the War on Detention.