WASHINGTON — A new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study will focus on truck drivers’ detention time and how it affects their safety.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on Aug. 23 that it plans to submit an Information Collection Request (ICR) for data on the issue, which will be analyzed “to determine the frequency and severity of detention time, as well as assess the utility of existing intelligent transportation systems (ITS) solutions to measure detention time.”
Approximately 80 carriers and 2,500 CMV drivers will provide data in the study, according to the IRC.
“The study will provide a better understanding of the impact of driver detention time on driver safety and CMV operations and inform strategies that may be used to mitigate driver detention time,” the IRC states.
Detention time refers to the extra time CMV operators wait at shipping and receiving facilities due to delays associated with the loading and unloading of cargo.
Drivers are often not paid for this extra time.
“Although there is currently no standard definition of detention time, the CMV industry, the U.S. government and academic detention research in the United States have typically used dwell time — the total amount of time spent at a facility — exceeding two hours to define when detention time occurs,” according to the FMCSA.
Detention time in the CMV industry is a longstanding issue and consistently ranks as one of the top problems for a large portion of CMV operators on an ongoing basis.
Further, detention time often results in lost revenue for many drivers and carriers, according to the FMCSA.
Reducing detention time may reduce costs for carriers, increase pay for drivers, and improve CMV drivers’ ability to make deliveries on time or arrive at a destination as planned without violating hours of service (HOS) requirements.
Drivers who experience less detention time may be more likely to drive safely to reach their destinations within the HOS limits and less likely to operate beyond HOS limits and improperly log their driving and duty time to make deliveries on time.
This isn’t the first time the FMCSA has studied this issue.
A study in 2014 provided “valuable initial insights” but “had several limitations, including a small sample of mostly large carriers, a rudimentary estimation of detention time, the inability to identify time spent loading/unloading and data that did not cover an entire 12-month period,” FMCSA officials stated. “Therefore, FMCSA needs additional data from a broader sample of carriers to understand the safety and operational impact of detention time, to better understand why detention time occurs, and to identify potential mitigation strategies the CMV industry may use to reduce detention time while improving operational efficiencies and safety.”
FMCSA’s new study will focus on three primary objectives:
- Assessing the frequency and severity of driver detention time using data that represent the major segments of the motor carrier industry.
- Assessing the utility of existing ITS solutions to measure detention time.
- Preparing a final report that summarizes the findings, answers the research questions and offers strategies to reduce detention time.
The study includes data collection via electronic logging devices (ELDs), transportation management systems (TMS), vehicle telematic systems, safety records and answers to questions delivered through the carriers’ dispatching systems.
The TMS, ELD, telematics and safety data are already collected by carriers. The only additional data that will be collected will be the answers to questions submitted through the carriers’ dispatching systems.
“This information will allow FMCSA to identify the severity and frequency of detention time, the factors that contribute to detention time, as well as the administrative, operational and safety outcomes of detention time,” FMCSA officials noted.
After agreeing to participate in the study, carriers will collect and provide 12 months of data.
When the FMCSA’s notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment by visiting the regulations.gov website and entering Docket No. FMCSA-2023-0172.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.