WASHINGTON, D.C. – Delays before loading and unloading activities cost U.S. drivers and carriers more than $1 billion a year – and increase crash risks in the process, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General has found.
Each 15-minute increase in average dwell time increases the expected average crash rate by 6.2%, a recent report concludes, relying on admittedly limited 2013 data. Based on the 104,318 crashes reported in the U.S. that year, the increase would represent about 6,500 crashes.
“We also found that, on average, every 5 percentage point increase in the share of loading and unloading stops that experience detention results in a 4.7 percent increase in expected crash rates,” the report says.
“We estimated that detention may be associated with reductions in annual earnings of between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion for drivers collectively, and between $1,281 and $1,534 per individual driver—a reduction of between 3.0 and 3.6 % in a driver’s average annual income,” it adds. “However, this income loss may be at least partially offset. Some carriers charge shippers detention fees and pay their drivers portions of those fees. About 60% of carriers responding to a 2015 [American Transportation Research Institute] survey reported passing some portion of these fees to their drivers. Representatives of one large carrier told us that their company pays an hourly rate to drivers for time spent in detention.”
For-hire carriers in the truckload sector would lose as much as $302.9 million in net earnings per year.
The office has called for further research into the issue, since there is no accurate industry data about driver detention. Time is usually only measured when trucks are detained at a shipper or receiver’s facility beyond the two-hour limit in shipping contracts, it says. And a 2014 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study of detention time represented just 29 medium and large carriers and two small carriers.