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What’s the Hold Up? FMCSA’s Audit of Load & Unload Times
Foley
3 mins read

JULY 11, 2016 – What’s the hold-up?

This is (essentially) the question being posed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to shippers and receivers. The agency has announced that it has begun an audit of the delays associated with the loading and unloading of freight that drivers are experiencing at shippers, docks, and other pick-up and drop-off spots.

Why is the FMCSA Doing This Now?

It is required through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) of 2015. The law says that the agency must issue regulations covering the collection of data in delays that occur when freight is being loaded and unloaded. Along with that, the FMCSA must report the impact those delays have on the economy and the overall efficiency of the country’s transportation system. The findings will eventually result in a federal rulemaking.

As stated in a memorandum from June 15, the agency’s objectives are to:

  • Assess available data on motor carrier loading and unloading delays;
  • Provide information on measuring the potential effects of those delays.

Why is This Important?

In 2013 alone, commercial carriers moved roughly $11.4 trillion of freight – nearly 64 percent of the total value of goods shipped by consumers, businesses, and industries that year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In the coming decades, the industry is only expected to grow (and significantly), so drivers, shippers, receivers and regulators have a shared goal to improve and streamline the process as much as possible.

What are the Implications of Delays?

Several reports have indicated a serious problem with delays and the costs and risk associated with them.

According to a 2014 DOT study, truck drivers are detained an average of nearly 1-and-a-half hours – that’s time beyond the expected 2-hour load/unload standard – in roughly 1 out of every 10 stops. Lost time due to such delays costs the industry as much as $4 billion a year (measured in lost productivity, miles and wages), the DOT reported in another similar study from 2009.

With the FMCSA’s current hours of service (HOS) rule limiting the hours drivers are allowed to work per day to 14, the agency has expressed concerns that drivers will try to make up for delays by driving faster and operating beyond their HOS limits (and thus potentially falsifying their logs). This could ultimately increase the risk of crashes and fatalities on the country’s roads, according to the FMCSA.

What’s Next?

The audit was recently announced, and the FMCSA has yet to release much information on the process. Stay with Foley as we cover the developments related to this important issue.

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