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Driver delays: somebody has to pay

May 18, 2011

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The American Trucking Associations released a statement Wednesday saying it would not support regulating driver detention times as proposed in HR 756, a bill recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR.

I concur. I don't believe regulation is a suitable way to resolve this issue.

So, ATA, do you have a better idea?

ATA Chairman Barbara Windsor said in the release that "Federal regulation in this area would directly affect shipping rates and would significantly change the playing field for carriers and shippers."

That, Madam Chair, is precisely the point.

Carriers, for obvious reasons, have been reluctant to hold their customers' feet to the fire and demand compensation for waiting time. They would appear to prefer burning their employees to possibly turning off customers -- even though the customer is the source of the problem.

In the days when drivers were a dime a dozen, that might have been a fiscally (if not morally) prudent decision. I'd argue that those days are over. In the face of what's predicted to be a record driver shortage, trucking will not attract new blood when drivers are forced to be on duty without pay.

The Defazio bill seeks to prohibit shippers and receivers from detaining drivers without providing reasonable compensation for that time.

Uncompensated delay time has been one of the Top 5 driver complaints ever since deregulation, but in the brave new world of electronic logs, the complaints could turn into empty seats. When all those wasted hours hit line four of an electronic log, there will be no denying the extent of the problem -- and drivers will no longer be able to recover that lost earning potential with a little creative logging.

I'm afraid, Madam Chair, that when drivers see their paychecks shrink because shippers or receivers keep them cooling their (unpaid) heels for three or four hours several times a week, there will be a stampede for the door.

When you get your EOBRs, there'll no longer be any reason for fleets or shippers to dispute drivers' claims of time spent at the dock, and it should be compensated. When the wheels stop, the clock has to start.

The ATA release went on to quote ATA First Vice Chairman Dan England, chairman and president of Salt Lake City-based C.R. England, saying, "No carrier wants to see our drivers' time wasted. 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."

Well, Mr. England -- and for the record, I agree with you -- it would seem that if carriers are not prepared to place a greater value on their drivers' time, higher powers just might be. I'll be waiting to see some changes to the aforementioned contractual agreements between shippers and carriers.

Carriers, it's time to put your money where your mouth is.


  1. 1. Rich Kruml [ May 20, 2011 @ 04:49PM ]

    The trucking companies have done almost nothing about this issue so far.
    When i retired in 2002 the only company that enforced this was Proctor and Gamble,with a 2 hour max from on-time appointment to checking out the gate empty.
    They imposed penalties on all the receivers and it worked, even notorious driver hating giants like Wal-Mart and Target complied because p&G showed no favorites.
    This is the way is should be for everything including produce. Let the receivers sort their own freight on their time, the truck is finished when the load hits their dock and 2 hours is plenty of time to get it off and release the driver.
    If they do not want to do this the driver should honestly log all time as on duty regardless of how long, then hopefully they run out of hours and refuse to move the truck until their logs allow it.
    Let the fun begin and get the highway patrol involved if they do not like it
    Power is in the numbers, if all companies and drivers would do this the situa

  2. 2. Ben Ellard [ May 20, 2011 @ 06:53PM ]

    That problem and a few others would go away if drivers where NOT paid primarily by the mile. That form of compensation simply means that drivers -- not carriers, not shippers, not receivers -- personally incur the costs of virtually all delays in the truckload industry. If carriers had to pay drivers for their time, those carriers would bill for detention and they would collect. Carriers would shun customers who would not pay, and those customers would come to see the light. No other government action would be required.

    That's not all, but if driver compensation were anything like fair, you would see good responsible drivers enter or return to the industry in droves.

    After all these years, I'm still amazed that anyone can consider a driver turnover rate of 130%, which we reached before the Great Recession and may see again soon, as "normal." In fact it's the most obvious symptom of a sick, sick industry that charges far too little for its services,

  3. 3. Gregory Foreman [ May 23, 2011 @ 05:12PM ]

    The problem with detention time is simply the fact that trucking companies do not have managerial personal with the "balls" to insist that receivers pay for detention time. Detention time became an aspect of trucking that has over the years, because of the lack of professionalism among those in management, became viewed as an item of service that was "negotiable" for securing a customers business. Another aspect of trucking that has become viewed in the same nature is the loading and unloading of trailers by the truck drivers. Many companies expect the driver to load and/or unload a trailer for free or for little or nothing. Such developments have occurred simply because those in the management positions, in particular those in marketing and sales, do not/can not defend the very product they are selling. Such personal operated under the attitude and belief they can be friends with customers first and service providers second. Such personal do not have the best

  4. 4. Uncle Darrell [ June 02, 2011 @ 04:56PM ]

    This detention stuff is definitely a mess and intensified by the 3PL crowd who are so money driven to the exclusion of courtesy and common sense in many instances. Shippers and receivers need to keep to their word and carrier vendors need to say, "Pay or we as a premium carrier vendor will no longer haul for you. People and businesses need to treated with mutual respect."

    One of my friends who was on a lease purchase program with a major refrigerated carrier went through an ugly story re: this subject.

    He was dispatched to a Tyson Foods plant in Indiana for an appointed pick up time. When he go there, he was told that the load was not ready and he would have to wait. He was told that story for several hours and then told that part of the shipment would come from another plant and had not arrived yet. Tyson told him that he could not park on their property and that they would call him. Long story short, after 29 hours, they called him and told him that the loa

  5. 5. Rich Kruml [ May 26, 2011 @ 04:28PM ]

    Greg, the biggest problem with drivers loading and unloading trucks is the drivers themselves...they do not have the balls to refuse to do anything for any employer that they are not paid for.
    There are labor laws in force that prevent this if you are paid certain ways.
    When a driver is paid by the mile the buck stops when they bump the dock so if the freight has to be moved after that the hell with them, get someone else to do it.
    Same thing applies to washing and sweeping out trailers, time spent getting tires fixed etc.
    Why does anyone believe they should do ANYTHING for their employer for free? That is STUPID and illegal.

  6. 6. Tom [ August 07, 2016 @ 11:02AM ]

    I spend an average of 15 hours a week hung up between rail yards n shippers I get paid for none of it. Have to give them a hour before I get paid at the rail and a hour n a half at a shipper n they usually hit that window . But to me I am sitting for 15 hours a week not getting paid n the company just goes eh that sucks feel for ya see ya tomorrow. When are we as a community going to demand compensation for this bs


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Author Bio

Jim Park

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Equipment Editor

Truck journalist 13 years, commercial driver 20 years. Joined us in 2007. Specializes in technical/equipment material (including Tire Report), brings real-world perspective to test drives.


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