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Truck drivers are estimated to lose between $1,281 and $1,534 each year and risk more accidents due to unplanned waiting times at loading docks. A report published by the Department of Transportation after a recent audit provides such data. The hours lost waiting for unloading and loading are also a problem for European transport. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation conducted an audit, to which it was bound by the Transportation Act of 2015. At the time, this act ordered the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue rules on the collection of data on waiting times and delays faced by drivers at loading docks. The same law required the general inspector of the Ministry of Transport to report on the impact of stopping time on drivers, carriers and the economy. The results of the audit carried out by the ministry are alarming.

Drivers lose approx. 3% of annual salary

The total waiting time on the ramps deprives American truck drivers of between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion annually – estimates the General Bureau of the U.S. Ministry of Transport. This loss ranges from 3 to 3.6% of the trucker’s average annual salary. 

In the U.S. transport industry, two hours waiting time is a common rule in shippers’ contracts. This time also reduces the annual net income of carriers by the amount of $250.6 million to $ 302.9million – according to the report.

In addition, as the ministry has determined, a longer waiting period of up to 15 minutes increases the probability of a driver taking part in an accident by 6.2%. 

According to industry experts, both the real losses and the risk of long waiting times on the ramps can be much higher. The reason for the underestimation is, according to experts, a limited amount of data on waiting times for drivers on ramps. Obtaining accurate information is difficult because most carriers and drivers measure only the time spent at the shipper’s or receiver’s premises outside the two-hour limit agreed very often in contracts with shippers.

It is the original sin of the industry, which does not pay drivers to wait, so this time is used inefficiently and has an impact on safety and income,” Steve Viscelli, sociologist and author of the book on American Trucking “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of American Dream”, told trucks.com.

Waiting time increases the risk of accidents

Waiting times at ramps extend the driver’s standby hours and therefore increase fatigue, thus leading to a higher risk of accidents.

Delays ‘cause frustration and reduce income and can contribute to unsafe behaviour such as speeding up and violating requirements (working hours)’, the report says.

The 15-minute extended waiting time results in one additional accident per 1,000 trucks on the road.

Given that 20% of long-distance truck drivers work 75 hours a week or more, and that most of this time is likely to be waiting time, this could be a really serious risk,” said Michael H. Belzer, Professor of Economics at Wayne State University.

The FMCSA is sceptical about the results of the audit and the conclusions in the report.

It would be premature to draw any conclusions about the impact of waiting times on accident rates or drivers’ income,” said Deputy FMCSA Administrator Cathy Gautreaux in a statement published with the report.

The organisation plans to address the lack of data on driver waiting times by adding an application form on its website. Trucks and carriers can voluntarily submit information about delays at the docks via the website. 

White- and blacklists of shippers already exist

The complications caused by protracted loading have caused many American carriers to be reluctant to cooperate with troublesome shippers. Some of them have developed shipper-of-choice programs that give priority to working with preferred customers who have never forced their drivers to wait.

Independent truck drivers, in turn, exchange names of companies with long waiting times. In this way, they can avoid shippers with long waiting times. 

Uber offers an interesting solution in this respect. Uber Freight Data allows you to identify the best and worst companies in terms of the ramp waiting time. Ratings of facilities are based on the opinions of 145,000 truck drivers.

For most truckers, quick loading and unloading is the most important thing. This was the response of 89% of the truckers surveyed by Uber, while friendly service was of key importance for another 11%.

Uber Freight Data was created to improve the quality of life of drivers and the efficiency of shippers,” said Kate Kaufman, Transaction Director at Uber Freight to trucks.com. “The higher the rating, the faster the cargo finds transport.” 

Photo: Shutterstock

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