Business

Regulators Need To Solve Detention Challenges In Shipping Of Fresh Produce

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Mandated in 2018, the implementation and use of electronic logging devices (ELDs), which measure driver’s hours of service (HOS), will again be a major issue in the trucking industry in 2020. The mandate enforces HOS laws which require that truckers can drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period. Many drivers dislike the mandate because it robs them of vital flexibility, although analysts say the rule promotes safety.

In particular, fresh produce shippers are struggling to get their products to market on time when drivers are unable to get their trucks loaded quickly. In some produce warehouses, the wait times can be as much as 12 hours. Combine that with HOS rules and produce is often late in getting to its destinations.

Therefore, trucking industry stakeholders want regulators to come up with solutions for wait times. John Hollay, senior director of government relations for the United Fresh Produce Association said, “Given the wider implementation of ELDs, the government must ensure that time logged is time spent in actual transit and not in time spent by drivers waiting for the product to be loaded.”

Although the move to ELDs has been smooth for the most part, the use of these devices has highlighted shipping operations, especially in production facilities, and their effect on drive times. Drivers and shippers alike are looking to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for revisions in the law which will help solve these problems. Several recommendations have been filed with the agency.

For most of the last two years since the mandate went into effect, the marketplace has reacted efficiently to the transition and normalcy has returned to carrier capacity. Both shippers and carriers, however, have recognized that more efficiency and better relationships will be essential in the future. 

While well-rested drivers should be the goal for everyone, flexibility should also be foremost in the minds of regulators, according to Hollay. He concluded by saying, “We are confident that updated regulations and potential legislation will include policies that ensure that fresh produce will be delivered both safely and in a timely manner.”

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