Detention time in the trucking industry is a longstanding issue – it consistently ranks as one of the top concerns of some professional drivers and has gotten the attention of the top leadership of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and, as a result, in August 2023, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a new detention time research project to study the issue.
If you’ve been in the trucking industry for more than a few years, you may recall a similar study in 2014, also sponsored by FMCSA. According to FMCSA, that study 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 by drivers loading/unloading, and data that did not span adequate time period. Given these limitations, FMCSA’s August 2023 research announcement highlighted its need for additional data from a broader sample of carriers to better understand why detention time occurs. FMCSA intends to gather and analyze data from up to 80 carriers and 2,500 vehicles and drivers.
FMCSA also highlighted three primary objectives for this broader data collection and research effort: (1) to assess the frequency and severity of driver detention time using data that represent the major segments of the industry; (2) to assess the utility of existing technology solutions to measure detention time; and (3) prepare a report that summarizes the research findings, answers several specific research questions, and offers strategies to reduce detention time.
The agency believes the findings from the new study will likely contribute to a more complete understanding of detention time-related issues and facilitate private sector decisions that lead to reductions in detention time and improvements in safety and supply chain efficiency.