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H.R. 756, Driver Detention Time

H.R. 756, Congressman DeFazio’s Driver Detention Bill

On February 17, 2011, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-4th/OR) introduced H.R. 756. The purpose of the legislation is to direct the Secretary of Transportation to prescribe standards for the maximum number of hours that an operator of a commercial motor vehicle may be reasonably detained by a shipper or receiver, and for other purposes. The bill currently has twelve co-sponsors.

Summary:

Report: H.R. 756 directs the Secretary of Transportation no later than one year after enactment of this legislation to conduct a study on the detention of operators of commercial motor vehicles by shippers before the loading and unloading of such vehicles.

Elements of the study shall include:

  • the average length of time that operators of commercial vehicles are detained before loading and unloading of such vehicles;
  • how such detentions impact such operators under various compensation structures in the motor carrier industry;
  • the extent of which such detentions result in violations of the Secretary’s regulations on maximum number of hours of service prescribed under section 31502 of title 49, USC; and
  • the feasibility of tracking causes of violations of such regulations.

Rulemaking: Not later than one year after submission of the report, the Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe, by regulation, standards for the maximum number of hours that an operator of a commercial motor vehicle transporting property in interstate commerce may be reasonably detained by a shipper or receiver before the loading or unloading of the vehicle, if the operator is not compensated for time detained.

Contents of the Regulation shall include:

  • consideration of whether the effect on safety of unreasonable detention of operators of commercial motor vehicles differs based on how an operator is compensated;
  • consideration of any correlation between unreasonable detention time of such an operator and a violation of the Secretary’s regulations on maximum  hours of service;
  • establishment of a process for an employer, shipper, receiver, broker, or commercial motor vehicle operator to report violations of the Secretary’s standards on detention time; and
  • institution of appropriate enforcement measures, including penalties, for violations of the Secretary’s standards on detention time.

Section 14103 of title 49, U.S.C. is amended by adding language that prohibits a shipper or receiver from detaining a person that operates a commercial motor vehicle without providing compensation for time detained beyond the maximum number of hours that the Secretary determines, by regulation

January 26, 2011 – GAO Report:

GAO held interviews with over 300 truck drivers and a number of industry representatives and motor carrier officials; they indicated that detention time occurs with some regularity and for a variety of reasons. About 59 percent of interviewed drivers reported experiencing detention time in the past two weeks and over two-thirds reported experiencing detention time within the last month. Drivers cited several factors that contribute to detention time, including:

  • limitations in facilities, such as the lack of sufficient loading and unloading equipment or staff. These limitations can occur when facilities over schedule appointments, creating a backlog of vehicles (43 percent of drivers identified);
  • the product not being ready for shipment (39 percent of drivers);
  • poor service provided by facility staff;
  • facility scheduling practices that may encourage drivers to line up hours before the facility opens; and
  • factors not under the control of the facility, such as drivers filing paperwork incorrectly.

Some facilities are taking steps to address these factors, such as using appointment times.

Detention time can result in reduced driving time and lost revenue for drivers and carriers. For those drivers that reported previously experiencing detention time, about 80 percent reported that detention time impacts their ability to meet federal hours of service safety requirements--a maximum of 14 hours on duty each day, including up to 11 hours of driving--by reducing their available driving time. About 65 percent of drivers reported lost revenue as a result of detention time from either missing an opportunity to secure another load or paying late fees to the shipper. Some practices can mitigate these economic impacts, such as charging detention time fees and developing relationships with facilities so drivers become familiar with a facility's process. According to industry representatives, carrier companies are better positioned than independent owner operators to use such practices and are better able to handle logistical challenges that may result from detention time.

While the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) collects data from drivers during roadside inspections, which provide information on the number of hours of service violations, the agency currently does not collect nor is it required to collect information to assess the extent to which detention time contributes to these violations. Agency officials stated that FMCSA does not identify the factors that contribute to hours of service violations, and detention time could be just one of many factors. To date, FMCSA research has focused on an overview of freight movement, but not the extent to which detention time occurs or how it may impact hours of service violations. FMCSA plans to conduct a 2012 study to better understand the extent to which detention time occurs. Obtaining a clearer industry-wide picture about how detention time contributes to hours of service violations could help FMCSA determine whether additional federal action might be warranted. However, any additional federal actions to address issues associated with detention time beyond hours of service would require careful consideration to determine if any unintended consequences may flow from federal action to regulate detention time.

GAO recommended that FMCSA examine the extent to which detention time contributes to hours of service violations in its future studies on driver fatigue and detention time.

Support:

OOIDA has supported this legislation.