Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to direct the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) to study the amount of time truck drivers are forced to wait at loading docks and to use those study results to establish detention time “fees” for shippers and receivers.

“Over the years I’ve heard anecdotes from truck drivers that detention time is a big problem and contributes significantly to inefficiencies in the supply chain productivity,” DeFazio said. “I asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study detention time and quantify the results. It’s clear from the GAO report that detaining truckers at loading docks is a significant problem that FMCSA needs to regulate.”

DeFazio’s legislation, H.R. 756, would require DOT to study detention time, issue regulations on the maximum number of hours that a driver may be reasonably detained without compensation, and mandate shippers and receivers to pay a fee for detention of drivers beyond the time established by DOT.

The bill would also authorize civil penalties against shippers for failure to pay for unreasonable detention time.

DeFazio cited a 2009 study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that identified “wait time” as a major inefficiency in the industry, costing carriers over $3 billion dollars annually.

He also pointed to the GAO’s final report titled “Commercial Motor Carriers: More Could Be Done to Determine Impact of Excessive Loading and Unloading Wait Times on Hours-of-Service Violations,” which found 80% of the 300 drivers interviewed experiencing detention time that affected their ability to meet hours of service (HOS) requirements.

DeFazio also noted that, under current law, shippers and receivers are not held accountable for the impact detention time has on a truck driver’s ability to adhere to HOS rules.

“Without addressing detention time, HOS rules do nothing to ensure a driver can make a living even when working a full day,” he stated in a press statement. “Therefore, if a driver is detained beyond a certain period of time, the driver should be compensated.”

Surveys conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) indicate as many as 40 hours per week are spent by drivers waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

“The colossal, mind-numbing wait times at loading docks are the biggest drain on productivity and on drivers,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vp. “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.”