FMCSA Announces New Study on Detention Time for Truckers

Detention time – the amount of time truck drivers wait to pick up or unload shipments – has long been a point of contention in the trucking industry. From complaints about lost hours to a 2018 report from the DOT showing detention time increased accident risks and overall costs to both carriers and owner-operators, the FMCSA is looking for more comprehensive data so they can issue guidelines and possibly push for legislation to reduce detention time and streamline the entire process.

How Detention Time Impacts the Drivers

Detention time significantly impacts truck drivers in several ways, most notably, it affects their earnings and overall well-being. For a large number of drivers, their income is calculated on a per-mile basis rather than hourly. Consequently, extended detention time, where the driver is not moving, directly corresponds to lost earning potential. Furthermore, the long, unproductive hours lead to increased frustration and stress, which can have a detrimental effect on their mental health. It also disrupts their carefully planned schedules, as truck drivers are under strict regulations for their hours of service, hence any delay can lead to them driving during less safe hours or going over their allotted hours and facing penalties. On a broader scale, excessive detention time can lead to truck drivers exiting the industry altogether, which could exacerbate the existing driver shortage problem. Therefore, addressing the issue of detention time is not only a crucial step towards improving the working conditions of truck drivers but also ensuring the sustainability of the trucking industry.

Possible Solutions to Reducing Detention Time

A number of potential solutions could mitigate the issue of detention time for truck drivers. One promising approach is to implement advanced technology and data analytics tools to improve scheduling and routing efficiency. This could involve using GPS tracking for real-time updates on shipment status, ensuring drivers don’t arrive at a loading dock before the shipment is ready. Shippers and receivers could also potentially use automated scheduling systems to avoid overbooking their docks and to better manage traffic flow. Another solution may lie in regulations — the FMCSA could establish mandatory detention pay to compensate drivers for lost time and earnings due to long wait times. This would incentivize shippers and receivers to improve their loading and unloading efficiency. Finally, fostering better communication between all parties involved in the shipping process, including drivers, shippers, and dispatchers, could help to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, leading to improved operations and reduced detention time.

Increased Crash Risk

The link between extended detention time and increased crash risk for truck drivers is alarmingly clear, primarily driven by the factors of fatigue and high stress levels. Long hours spent waiting at loading docks not only lead to frustration and mental stress but also contribute to physical exhaustion. Drivers often find themselves having to make up for this lost time by driving longer hours without adequate rest, which significantly amplifies the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Fatigue impairs a driver’s reaction time, decision-making, and ability to concentrate, thus raising the likelihood of a crash. Additionally, the pressure to meet delivery deadlines despite the delays can lead to drivers feeling compelled to drive at higher speeds, thereby increasing the risk of accidents. Detention time also disrupts the driver’s schedule, potentially forcing them to drive during night hours when visibility is low and the probability of fatigue-induced accidents is higher. There is the added risk of drivers exceeding their legally allowed driving hours due to detention time, which can also escalate crash rates. Hence, reducing detention time is not only a matter of economic importance for drivers and trucking companies but also a significant safety concern.

The Impact on Trucking Insurance

The implications of long detention times on trucking insurance are far-reaching, creating a ripple effect that is felt throughout the industry. With the increased risk of accidents, insurance companies may see a rise in the number of claims filed, leading to higher insurance payouts. This can result in increased premium rates for trucking companies as these insurance providers seek to offset the costs. The increased financial burden of higher premium rates can be particularly challenging for small-to-medium-sized trucking businesses, narrowing their profit margins and threatening their sustainability. Furthermore, consistent claims due to accidents might label a company as high-risk, which might deter insurance companies from providing coverage altogether or only offering it at exorbitant rates. This, in turn, can influence the company’s operational capacity – a lack of adequate insurance coverage can limit their ability to take on certain contracts or work with certain clients who require proof of insurance as a precondition. The increased insurance costs can also lead trucking companies to pass these additional costs onto their customers, increasing freight charges and affecting the competitiveness of the trucking industry. Therefore, reducing detention times is not just beneficial in terms of safety and efficiency but is also a proactive measure in maintaining affordable insurance rates and ensuring the overall financial health of the trucking sector.

While we can only wait for the results of the FMCSA’s study on detention time, trucking companies and owner-operators can cut insurance costs with Single Point Capital. Not only do we provide deferred payment programs for new trucking companies, but we also offer comprehensive coverage ranging from basic liability to cargo, accident insurance, workers’ benefits, and more. Contact Single Point Capital today to get the coverage you need without high premiums.