OIG launches audit over ‘detention time’ issue

By Greg Grisolano, associate editor

A long-awaited audit delving into the issue of delays commercial vehicles face during loading and unloading is now underway.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General announced the audit in mid-June. The procedure stems from a mandate in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015.

The FAST Act directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue regulations on collecting data on loading and unloading delays. It also directs OIG to report on the impact of those delays in areas such as the economy and efficiency of the transportation system.

The OIG’s release notes that delays at shipping and receiving facilities during cargo loading and unloading may result in travel delays and lost wages for drivers.

“Truckers who experience these delays may then drive faster to make deliveries within hours-of-service limits or operate beyond these limits and improperly log their driving time, thus increasing the risk of crashes and fatalities,” the OIG release stated.

The FAST Act mandates a report be submitted to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation within one year; within two years, the Secretary of Transportation shall establish a regulation governing the process of data collection on delays experienced by commercial vehicle operators.

The issue of detention time is one that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long lobbied for the federal government to address, according to Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, OOIDA director of government affairs.

“We are optimistic that FMCSA will be able to help articulate the severity of the problem of excessive wait times during the loading process, and the impact it has on safety, driver retention, and overall efficiency,” she said in response to OIG’s audit announcement. “The federal government needs to act in this area because as long as a driver’s time has no value, he or she will continue to absorb all of the inefficiencies in the supply chain.”

The release states that OIG’s objectives will be to assess available data on motor carrier loading and unloading delays and provide information on measuring the potential effects of loading and unloading delays. LL