The Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General is on a fact-finding mission to determine the effect of detention on driver hours of service. The purpose of the investigation is to measure detention times during loading/unloading and to quantify the impact of these delays on our economy.
Unsuccessfully, the Obama administration has twice addressed the detention issue in the Highway Funding bill, AKA the Grow America Act. In an announcement posted to the Office of Inspector General website, the DOT noted that it was moving forward with an audit of loading/unloading delays, whose goals are commensurate with the FAST Act requirements that DOT “report on the impact of loading and unloading delays in areas such as the economy and efficiency of the transportation system.”
Over fiscal years 2015 through 2020, the FAST Act authorizes $305 billion for highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, research, technology, and statistics programs.
Tips for Shippers to Avoid Detention Charges and Become a Favored Shipper/Receiver
For every minute that a truck sits idle at a pickup or delivery location, a minute of money is lost for trucking companies― and with the new Hours of Service rules affecting productivity, the situation is even more urgent today. That’s why the most important thing a shipper can do to be renowned as a “preferred shipper” for carriers, besides paying them on time, is getting their trucks back on the road as quickly as possible.
Detention is a contentious issue and shippers resist paying it. Carriers much rather prefer to leave the customer’s dock within the allotted time than bill the arduously collected detention. Shippers’ dock personnel can practice a few fundamental protocols to make every reasonable effort to load or unload a carrier’s truck in a timely manner, thereby enhancing their "preferred shipper/receiver" status.
- Schedule your dispatch as far in advance as possible.This gives the trucking company time to schedule the pick-up and/or delivery. Make sure that the loading party or the unloading party is ready to take action when the carrier arrives. Most carriers have satellite tracking capabilities so they can offer several hours of notification before arrival to aid in staging efforts.
- Negotiate more time for difficult loading or unloading shipments. For example, floor loaded cargo may take longer than the general 2 hours free time. If you know that the trailer takes longer than the allotted free waiting time to load or unload, attempt to strike a deal in advance for a bit of extended time so carriers can plan for the use of that truck. Otherwise, make sure you know your allotted free time and when the clock starts for billing, so you can be cognizant of the coming fees while loading/unloading the trailer.
- Try to respect the drivers time. The job of a commercial truck driver is stressful. Challenging driving conditions and demanding daily schedules can wear out even the most seasoned veteran drivers. Making every effort to get him or her in and out of your facility promptly will remove a substantial amount of stress from a driver’s day.
Legislating detention may help carriers get paid for the charges, but it is rather unlikely that it will address the bigger issue; that being the efficient utilization of carrier assets in the movement of freight in the United States. Legislation rarely solves a problem, as it only tends to police it. It is really the shipper’s and receiver’s onus to implement protocols to ship and receive freight in accordance with the agreed time parameters. It’s in the best interest of all parties to maximize the efficiency of their individual operations and minimize costs.