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Detention Time Bill Infocenter
Posted on May 20, 2011

Reduce DETENTION time for Truck Drivers: Cosponsor H.R. 756

From: The Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Bill: H.R. 756
Date: 5/6/2011

Dear Colleague:

I urge you to join me as a cosponsor of H.R. 756, a bill to address the problem of detention time in the trucking industry.  Detention time costs society billions of dollars each year, makes it difficult for many truck drivers to make a living, and contributes to violations of safety rules.  H.R. 756 ensures that goods will move through our transportation network more efficiently and that truck drivers are compensated for time they spend waiting to do their jobs.

When a truck driver arrives at a loading dock or shipper facility to pick up or drop off a load, it is not uncommon for the driver to be made to wait for several hours.  In February, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) completed a study, at my request, which confirmed that detention time is a prevalent problem in the industry.  GAO found that among the over 300 drivers interviewed, 68 percent reported being detained within the past month.  Of the drivers who experienced detention time, 80 percent reported that being detained impacted their ability to meet hours of service requirements and 65 percent reported lost revenue as a result.

Detention time has a major impact on economic productivity.  Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has shown that time lost and related inefficiencies from loading and unloading cost the industry over $3 billion annually.

Drivers are severely impacted if they are not compensated for time detained.  All truck drivers must count time waiting at loading docks or facilities against their daily and weekly on duty limits under hours of service rules.  However, many truck drivers are paid by the number of loads they deliver rather than a set wage based on hours on duty.  If a driver is kept waiting, he may not be able to complete additional deliveries before reaching the end of his allowable hours on duty.  Drivers often face the impossible choice between earning less money than they anticipated, despite working a 14-hour day, and continuing to work when fatigued, in violation of hours of service rules.

Many factors that lead to detention are completely out of the control of the driver, such as shipper or receiver facility staffing, lack of loading or unloading equipment, or products not being ready for pick up.  Currently, shippers and receivers are not held accountable for their contribution to inefficiencies or the impact on safety.

H.R. 756 requires the Secretary of Transportation to prescribe standards for the maximum number of hours that a truck driver may be reasonably detained by a shipper or receiver prior to loading or unloading, when the driver is not compensated for time detained.  Shippers and receivers who detain drivers beyond the time established by the Secretary will be required to pay a detention fee. The bill also institutes penalties for failure to pay for unreasonable detention time by shippers and receivers.  The bill does not require the Department of Transportation to set the amount of the fee.  Rather, the level of compensation for detention will be determined in contracts between shippers and trucking companies or drivers.

Please join me in cosponsoring this important bill to improve productivity in the trucking industry and ensure the fair treatment of truck drivers.


Peter A. DeFazio

Ranking Member,

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit



(Grain Valley, Mo., Feb. 17, 2011) – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says a new bill would make shippers and receivers accountable for their contribution to the lack of productivity in the transportation supply chain and would make significant improvements to highway safety.

Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a bill today, H.R. 756, in the House of Representatives to address the problem of excessive wait times for trucks at shipping and receiving facilities. Otherwise known as “detention time,” this is an issue truckers have continually brought to the attention of lawmakers and policymakers because of how it affects hours-of-service regulations, productivity and highway safety.

“In a just-in-time, deregulated industry, trucking has de-evolved to where truckers are donating their time to the benefit of shippers and receivers. The problem persists because it doesn’t cost shippers or receivers to squander drivers’ time,” said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President, OOIDA.

The bill calls for a study and a regulatory rulemaking on detention times and compensation. Among other things, the study would evaluate average lengths of time that drivers are detained before loading and unloading and the impact on hours of service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would be required to introduce a new regulation, setting standards for maximum numbers of hours a driver may be detained and not compensated.

Surveys conducted by OOIDA indicate as many as 40 hours per week are spent by drivers waiting to be loaded or unloaded. A study by FMCSA says the cost to the industry is more than $3 billion per year and the cost to the public is more than $6.5 billion per year.

“The colossal, mind-numbing wait times at loading docks are the biggest drain on productivity and on drivers,” said Spencer. “Shippers and receivers have for too long gotten away with wasting truckers’ time without any accountability for their role in the ultimate effect it has on highway safety.”


WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va., May 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Trucking Associations Board of Directors today called on policymakers to respect contracts between carriers and shippers and abandon proposals to interfere in those arrangements.

Specifically, the Board voted to oppose efforts at regulating detention time – the time drivers and trucks wait to load or unload their cargo.

"ATA and its members value the time of our drivers," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said following the Board's decision. "However, federal intervention into this area would have significant impacts on the contractual agreements between carriers and shippers."

"The ability of carriers to negotiate rates, routes and service with our shippers is very important to us," said, ATA Chairman Barbara Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation, Inc., New Market, Md. "Federal regulation in this area would directly affect shipping rates and would significantly change the playing field for carriers and shippers."

"No carrier wants to see our drivers' time wasted," ATA First Vice Chairman Dan England, chairman and president of C.R. England Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah said. "However, this is not an issue that can be handled with a 'one-size, fits all' regulation and as a result is best addressed in contractual agreements between carriers and shippers."

"This isn't a big carrier issue or a small carrier issue," said Keith Tuttle, president of Motor Carrier Services Inc., Northwood, Ohio, and chairman of ATA's Small Carrier Advisory Committee. "The ability to freely negotiate contracts is something all carriers want to protect."


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