Digital Edition

Feb. 17, 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 63

GOVERNMENT WATCH INTERNATIONAL | WASHINGTON | CUSTOMS | SECURITY | REGULATION 16 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE FEBRUARY 17.2014 DRIVER DETENTION IS a "safety issue," not just an economic or contractual issue between a trucking company and its customers, a vet- eran transportation attorney says. Speaking at the SMC3 JumpStart 2014 conference in Atlanta last month, John Bagileo said trucking companies and ship - pers should clearly spell out standards and penalties for driver detention when negoti- ating contracts — and stick to them — unless they want federal regulators to define driver detention time and penalties for them. Carriers also should include restrictions and penalties for excessive driver detention in their rules tariffs to enforce their policies with non-contract customers. "I've heard of drivers being held up to 14 hours" to load or unload trailers, Bagileo said. "What kind of pressure does that put on a driver trying to observe the hours of service? It puts very strong pressure on truck drivers, especially owner-operators." The industry standard for acceptable detention is two hours, according to third- party logistics company Transplace, though some tariffs allow up to four hours, Bagileo said. In a recent study on accessorial charges, Transplace said 81 percent of trucking com- panies allow two hours free detention before charging penalties, with 66 percent of carri- ers charging for increments of 15 minutes. Detention penalties charged by carriers have been stagnant during the last two years, ranging from $25 to $90 per hour, with most shippers accepting surcharges of up to $60 per hour, according to Transplace's annual benchmarking study, In recent Capitol Hill testimony on hours of service rules, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro challenged Congress to address detention time, Bagileo noted. "It will be interesting to see if Congress takes up that challenge," he said. Whether Congress acts on detention or not, the FMCSA may, a prospect that should concern shippers and carriers. Ferro also singled out driver detention in a speech at the Transportation Research Board's 93rd annual meeting in Washington in January. "Drivers have one of the toughest jobs in our nation," she said. "They operate under very difficult conditions, they operate under extreme stress, and they operate, frankly, in some cases with extreme disrespect when it comes to detention time." Shippers at the SMC3 meeting were aware of the problem, but said detention isn't always easy to avoid. "We watch detention, and we're super cognizant of being a carrier-friendly shipper," said Joshua Dolan, senior director of logistics for Dick's Sporting Goods, a $5.8 bil- lion retailer with more than 550 stores, mostly in the U.S. East and Midwest. "On the inbound side, we try to push most of our product through a drop-and-hook (trailer) program," which lets drivers quickly pick up full trailers and drop empties. "On the store delivery side," Dolan said, "it's a differ- ent story." Unloading at some stores can take up to two hours, he said, adding, "We're a little bit limited in our recourse," but Dick's Sporting Goods can work with carriers "to ensure drivers are compensated." Clorox, the $5.6 billion consumer goods manufacturer, also uses drop-and-hook pro- grams to speed inbound freight and avoid detention, but has similar outbound trou- bles, Jeff Shoemaker, group manager for transportation, said at the SMC3 event. "On the customer end, it's challenging," he said. "There are some bad players out there. The idea is to take a strategic approach to getting costs out of the system and work with them to optimize (distribution) and eliminate the whole discussion." The FMCSA has been studying for more than a decade how detention affects drivers. As far back as 2001, an FMCSA study found a correlation between long delays in loading and unloading and crashes. Ferro has made detention part of a broad regulatory strategy of addressing truck and highway safety by targeting driver behavior. The agency spent $500,000 over the past two years to study the effects of detention on driver fatigue, working with the Virginia Technical Transportation Institute. The first phase of that study is complete. "We'll be reporting on the first phase not too far in the future and preparing the ground for phase two," Ferro said, noting that detention "is an area of not just inefficiency in the sup- ply chain but inefficiency that is placed on the back of truckers and for which they are not compensated." The key to stopping detention is "more cooperation between carriers and shippers," Balileo said, and "the best way to address it is in the contract." However, "if there was enforcement of penalties for keeping a driver beyond four hours, that might help." The question is, who should the enforcer be? JOC Contact William B. Cassidy at and follow him at _joc. By William B. Cassidy FOR SAFETY'S SAKE Motor carriers, shippers urged to set and enforce rules on driver detentions — or face the regulatory consequences

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Feb. 17, 2014