Produce shippers and receivers, cover your ears.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking input on truck driver detention times during loading and unloading. 

Comments are due Sept. 9 and they are already getting an earful on the topic.

From the request for comments:

“FMCSA requests information on existing or potential sources of data to better understand driver detention times during the loading and unloading of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and the potential impact of such delays on roadway safety. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of Inspector General found that better data are needed to fully understand the issues associated with driver detention.”

That’s the setup. More than 450 have commented so far — many truckers among that number —  and there is major blowback on the fresh produce supply chain. Here is one trucker weighing in, with angry capital letters. More comments from truckers follow the first.

Brace yourself...

APPOINTMENTS AT PRODUCE PLACE REALLY MEANS NOTHING BECAUSE I HAVE SIT THERE FOR 12HRS AT PRODUCE FACILITIES. AND IN PRODUCE THESE GUYS WILL HAVE YOU RUNNING ALL OVER THE PLACE 100’S OF MILES PICKING UP. THEY WILL HAVE YOU DRIVE 150 MILES FOR 5 BOXES OF SOMETHING AND YOU PICKED UP THE SAME TYPE OF STUFF AT ANOTHER PLACE WHY NOT GET ALL AT THE OTHER PLACE INSTEAD OF DRIVING 150 MILES FOR 5 BOXES.

I HAVE HAD THAT TO HAPPEN MANY OF TIMES. PRODUCE IS MORE SENSITIVE BECAUSE IT WILL GO BAD FASTER. BUT LAW WILL NOT LET YOU DRIVE LONGER ENOUGH AT A TIME AND MAKE YOU SLEEP FOR 10HRS. HERE IS ANOTHER THING LOADING DRIVER HAS TO BE LISTENING TO BE CALLED TO BACK TO THE DOCK IT MIGHT BE QUICK AND COULD BE HOURS BUT YOU CAN’T SLEEP OR SLEEP PROPERLY. ONCE YOU DO GET LOADED ALL THIS TIME WAITING TO GET LOAD HAS GONE AGAINST A DRIVER THEN DRIVER GETS IN TROUBLE BECAUSE HE IS RUNNING BEHIND. GET LOADED AND HAS TO BE 1000’S MILES AWAY FROM HIS DELIVERY. 

MAKING IT TO THE PLACE OF DELIVERY NOW. GUESS WHAT DELIVERY TIMES MEANS NOTHING AGAIN BUT HE’S LATE AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. YOU GET CHARGED AGAIN WASN’T GIVEN ENOUGH TIME ONCE YOU GOT LOADED TO MAKE DELIVERIES. BUT IT IS ALWAYS DRIVERS FAULT.

TWO THINGS LOADERS AND UNLOADS NEED TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR NOT GETTING TRUCKS LOADED AND UNLOADING AT THESE PLACE TAKE HOURS TO GET YOU UNLOADED. YOU HAVE A APPOINTMENT BUT LIKE I SAID THEY MEAN NOTHING LIKE A DOCTOR’S OFFICE BOOK 2 TIMES AS MANY TRUCK FOR PICKUP OR DELIVERY AND DRIVERS SIT FOR HOURS AND NOT ABLE TO SLEEP BECAUSE YOU FALL ASLEEP JUST FOR THAT SECOND. BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T HEAR YOU NAME CALLED YOUR SKIP AND A NO SHOW.

ELD OKAY IT RECORDS EVERYTHING SO WHY DICTATE HOW HE IS GOING TO DRIVE. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE A FEW MORE HOURS OF DRIVING. IT SHOWS WHERE YOU HAD 8HRS OF SLEEPING NOT 10HRS. 

BUT GETTING HELP WITH THE LOADING AND UNLOADING AT THE PLACES WOULD BE A BIG HELP. YOU WANT A DRIVER TO DO HIS JOB. ENFORCE COMPANIES TO LOAD WITH ENOUGH TIME TO DO WHAT A DRIVER HAS TO DO. DON’T MAKE APPOINTMENT BEFORE PRODUCT IS LOADED. NOT A WEEK BEFORE PRODUCT IS EVEN IN THE PLACES THAT IT IS BEING PICKUP AT.

WE AS DRIVERS NEED HELP ON GETTING LOADED AND UNLOAD WITHIN REASONABLE TIME. NOT 6 AND 8HRS AFTER YOUR APPOINTMENTS AND EVEN ONCE YOU BACK TO THE DOCK IT COULD BE HOURS BEFORE YOU GET LOADED OR UNLOADED.90% OF THE FOLKS MAKING THESE LAWS AND RULE HAVE KNOW IDEA WHAT A DRIVER GOES THOUGH. WHY DON’T YOU COME OUT OF THAT LAD BACK OFFICE MAKING THAT 6 DIGIT FIGURE CHECK AND COME RIDE WITH SOMEONE WHO ONLY MAKES MAYBE 50,000 AND SEE WHAT IT’S LIKE. 

Here is another:

The problem as I see it, this industry has cared very little about the drivers. We drive in an industry of hurry up so you can wait. I will probably have to break it down into a few comments as I will probably run out of characters. 

Take produce shippers & receivers, for the most part they could care less about the drivers. The only time they care is when the produce doesn’t show up on time at their dock & they have it sold, then its lets claim the driver for being late & the loss of potential profits on the sale of the product, whether or not it was sold. Doesn’t matter that the shipper held the truck for over 10 hours to load it. The truck is late, the receiver has a profit potential. If the truck arrives on time but the product has not been sold, well now we have free cold storage since the product is left on the truck sometimes for as much as 24 hours as has been the case at XXXX in YYY during a major holiday.
Both shippers & receivers as a general rule in the produce world refuse to pay detention, & in the very few instances they have paid, its been a miserable $30.00 per hour.

 

Again...

For produce it takes 3 to 8 hours to get loaded.You should stop the 14 hour clock in these circumstances as shippers dont care about us!

And....

We sit anywhere from 2 - 19 hours getting loaded and unloaded!! This is absolutely absurd!! The worst places are the produce places in California, AND they give us appointment times, but yet sit waiting for hours on end before and after we get a dock door!!! No thought about the truck drivers hours and time!!!


Finally....

In a free market, forcing shipper and receivers to pay detention would be almost impossible. Trucking companies are their own worst enemy. Most carrier contracts do not have language for detention pay, and if we charged detention, that shipper would quit giving us freight. The only way you are going to help the average truck driver is to rewrite the hours of service laws. The quality of the profession is deteriorating at a fast pace. The regulations that have been imposed are not helping. With the rising cost of insurance and driver retention FMCSA needs to produce some relief to the drivers and carries pretty quick.


TK: What’s the “answer”? More regulatory flexibility with hours of service regs, of course, but it seriously sounds as if produce shippers and receivers need to create scenarios that lead to quicker loading and unloading - and more importantly, better relationships with truckers.
 

 
Comments
Submitted by R Henry on Tue, 08/13/2019 - 16:35

Produce is unique. Drivers who perhaps were trained in non-perishables might not understand that sometimes precoooling/packout and other delays occur, with nobody being at fault.

That said, there is no debating that drivers' needs are routinely ignored or abused. They are seldom advised in advance of known delays, seldom provided with a clean restroom or a comfortable waiting area with a well stocked snack machine.

Smart produce business managers understand that truckers are just as vital as good seed, good weather, and good field labor.

Submitted by MW on Sat, 08/17/2019 - 09:09

All good pinpoints raised here. The other caviar is sellers are being charged late fees from independent operators at retail DC’s or the retailer themselves. This industry relies on cooperation through the entire supply chain. The farmer to the consumer. We need to maintain efficiency at all levels for the farmer, the truckers, the receivers, third party handlers and the sellers to keep costs at a level where all are covered. It is understood that the new regulations for truckers need to be reviewed with input from the trucking community and working with government for safety in the roads but understanding the industry while making the needed tweaks to the law.
We also need all service providers along the chain to understand that delivered costs are set and any charges assessed are absorbed by some part of the chain. The produce industry is geared to deliver high quality as quick as possible and there are factors continuously affecting the chain from Mother Nature, boarder crossings, traffic on the roadways, and systems at handlers to try and make the flow efficient with or without appointments. Test we need to address time and cost of that time. I feel there needs some
Flexibility and consensus on where the delays occur that works is applied to the cost goods throughout the supply chain.
Regulation is one part to look at and definitely needs a makeover now that there are valid arguments for change without compromising safety. We also need to look at the chain and understanding all parts we can establish a values depending on each companies operating challenges since they can vary with commodity and industry logistics. The sellers need to have a handle on what their additional exposure is and add it in as an average to cost of goods so every party can stay competitive and treated to a fair pay or profit

Submitted by Brenda C. on Sat, 08/17/2019 - 17:21

As a former dispatcher I can contest that everything the driver said is correct. Our drivers today need a lot more help from everyone in the Food Chain so they can following the laws and deliver fresh food on time. Please realize there is so much more to their job than people think.