There continues to be a lot of conversation about driver detention times, and the U.S. Department of Transportation was still taking input on the issue until Sept. 9.
The last time I checked, close to 600 comments had been submitted
Again, some of the comments spoke of no great fondness about the role fresh produce shippers and receivers have on waiting times for trucks at unloading and loading. At the same time, many comments were realistic
One anonymous comment said this:
There are no devices that function to exclusive or accurately record delays in loading, unloading, or dock times. With ELDs companies are able to manually extrapolate how long a truck has been at a shippers location. This is an estimation and not a definitive or practical way of determining detentions.
The ability of a transportation company to understand how long a shipper takes to load and unload is an important part of the pricing and resource utilization decision.
Currently carriers rely on institutional knowledge and experience to make estimates how long shippers will take to load and unload. While many carriers are concerned that their customers will not be responsive to requests to improve detention time, many shippers and receivers are presently unaware of the severity of the issue and may voluntarily act to change the situation when presented with significant data.
Reasonable waiting times for carriers need to take into consideration the commodity that is being transported.
Highly automated warehouses, shipping boxed dry freight can not be compared to a produce shed shipping refrigerated fresh fruit from the field on a 100 degree day. FMCSA would benefit from a study period sampling various shippers to establish a baseline of reasonable times. From this FMCSA and the industry can work towards reducing times.
Carriers who have direct shipper contacts have some clauses related to shipper delays. Because the balance of power is in favor of shippers these are generally non negotiable and often times onerous.
Carriers have very little ability to negotiate these terms, and no general industry standards to compare them to. While some carriers require shippers to compensate for detention time in their contracts, others do not for fear they will lose business. Having more widely accessible public data on detention time, or empowering carriers to take control of their own data to identify detention in their datasets, would enable detention time compensation to be more widely accepted in contract agreements.
TK: Should the industry do more to compensate drivers who have to wait to load and unload? Should there be a public database of operators with the worst wait times? A social media rating? Clearly, more could be done to create incentives for truckers to favor the most responsive operators.