ATA Opposes Efforts to Regulate Detention Time

The American Trucking Associations says detention time is an issue to be negotiated between carriers and shippers, and the federal government should stay out of it.

ATA’s Board of Directors voted to oppose efforts at regulating detention time – the time drivers and trucks wait to load or unload their cargo.

“ATA and its members value the time of our drivers,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said following the board’s decision. “However, federal intervention into this area would have significant impacts on the contractual agreements between carriers and shippers.”

The call to policymakers appears to be in reaction to recent recommendations by the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee to regulate driver detention and a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a letter to FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro, David Parker, chairman of the MCSAC, said the agency should seek legal authority over entities that contribute to FMCSA safety violations. According to Parker, an undue detainment can cause drivers to violate hours of service rules.

Earlier this year, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced legislation to address the issue. HR 756 would limit the number of hours a driver can be detained. The bill draws form a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office which found, which surveyed 300 drivers. The study found that 68 percent of drivers had been detained in the previous month. Of those, 80 percent had difficulty complying with HOS rules, and 65 percent reported lost revenue.

“The ability of carriers to negotiate rates, routes and service with our shippers is very important to us,” said ATA Chairman Barbara Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation. “Federal regulation in this area would directly affect shipping rates and would significantly change the playing field for carriers and shippers.”

“No carrier wants to see our drivers’ time wasted,” ATA first vice chairman Dan England, chairman and president of C.R. England said. “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.”

While the ATA opposes the regulation, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association supported DeFazio’s bill when it was introduced in February. Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, said shippers and receivers squander drivers’ time.

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