How shippers cost drivers $15K a year

The average truck driver might pocket $15,000 extra each year if shippers used best practices, according to figures drawn from a just-published J.B. Hunt report.

The whitepaper titled "660 Minutes: How Improving Diver Efficiency Increases Capacity," breaks down the 11-hour driving limit and how shippers can help get the most from it. The authors note that current HOS regulations should cause the industry to look at drivers' time differently than under previous rules.

"Think of a driver’s time as that of an hourglass, a perishable commodity which is continually diminishing. Whereas in the past a driver could, much like a stopwatch, start or stop his or her clock depending on the activity, a driver today cannot log time waiting at a shipper location or making a delivery as 'off duty.' Once a driver begins his or her safety check at the start of the workday, the clock is running down without pause."

This way of thinking, the whitepaper notes, makes a driver's time even more precious.

If shippers were to implement ideas from the whitepaper – and the authors make clear that these are ideals – the average driver could gain about 44,375 miles annually. Assuming 29 cents to 40 cents range per mile per driver, a lower paid driver could see an annual pay raise of $12,868 and a higher paid driver could see a pay raise of $17,750 for an average among all drivers of about $15,000 more annually.

The report suggests four areas in which shippers can increase a driver's on-the-road time:

Allow flexible appointment times (eliminate 45 minutes per day or 9,375 miles gained per driver per year)

"When shippers make pickup and delivery times more flexible, carriers are better able to accommodate shipping schedules while maintaining compliance with Hours of Service regulations," the report noted. "Furthermore, inflexible appointment times create unnecessary detention time and dwell."

Expedite loading and unloading times (eliminate 60 minutes per day of 12,500 miles gained per driver per year)

"… a driver who averages two hours each at a pick-up and delivery is not operating at peak efficiency. The driver must extend beyond the 150 minutes allocated as 'non-driving time' and use portions of his or her 660 minutes of driving time to accommodate time at the shipper or receiver. This is without considering the additional time necessary to perform safety checks or search for a place to shut down," the report stated.

Provide onsite driver accommodations/parking (eliminate 60 minutes per day or 12,500 miles gained per driver per year)

"Often the transportation industry is confronted with the concept that, when a driver’s clock expires, he or she pulls over and goes to sleep. This is simply not the case. A driver can spend over an hour searching for a safe, legal location to shut down and must budget this time accordingly. If a driver spends 60 minutes seeking out parking and drives, on average, 50 miles per hour, then 50 miles have been lost per day. For a driver spending 250 days on the road per year, that’s 12,500 miles lost per year."

Accommodate drop and hook (eliminate 48 minutes per day or 10,000 miles gained per driver per year)

"Utilizing drop trailers to handle trailer moves within a facility can allow drivers to return to the road. A recent J.B. Hunt study found that the average difference in time between a drop and hook and a live unload was 0.4 hours of wait time, 0.8 hours of service and detention time and –0.4 hours of dwell. In total, drivers spent 0.8 more hours (48 minutes) at a live unload than a drop and hook. If a single driver averages 50 miles per hour, that’s 40 forfeited miles per day or 10,000 forfeited miles per year (assuming 250 days spent on the road per year)."

In conclusion, the whitepaper states: "There are many pressures acting upon capacity and many upcoming regulations which could inhibit driver hours. It is necessary for shippers and carriers to not only attain a strong understanding of Hours of Service, but also to pursue best practices for improved driver utilization."

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