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Supply Chain News: USA Today Story Again Goes After Port Drayage Practices, Alleging Many Drivers Overworked, Leading to Accidents


Data Analysis, Driver Stories Show Dark Side of Drayage Business, but ELD Requirement Likely to End Practices

Jan. 1, 2018
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Last June, the USA Today newspaper published a major story detailing questionable practices in the trucking sector, especially for port drayage, noting many contract drivers were pressured into buying trucks from the firms and making little or no money as a result.

Now, a new story by the paper alleges that many drayage firms pressure or force their drivers to work long days in violation of federal hours of service rules, and tries to tie its analysis into accidents involving drayage trucks.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

20 drivers from drayage carrier Pacific 9 testified in recent labor court cases that they worked up to 19 hours a day and wouldn't get paid until they falsified inspection reports

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The drayage firms "dispatch truckers for shifts that last up to 20 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes with tragic results," the article says.

It bases that conclusion on anecdotal evidence as well as analysis of the movements of trucks in and out of the ports using publicly available data collected from the entry points at the ports. This data identified the truck and showed how often it was in operation in and around the port area. The data showed there were 580,000 times, or about 8% of total port traffic from 2013 to 2016, where a truck potentially violated hours of service rules for taking a break 10-hour after 14 hours on the road.

The analysis also found that, on average, trucks serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach operated without the required break 470 times a day.

Those trucks appearing to exceed their drivable hours were involved in at least 189 crashes within a day of an extended period on the clock, though the federal records do not indicate who was at fault.

Trucking company executives contacted by USAToday denied allowing their drivers to violate fatigue rules. Some noted that two drivers sometimes share one truck, a practice that could account for long stints of activity.

"We believe your analysis of driver gate data is perhaps a bit misplaced," Kevin Dukesherer, president of Progressive Transportation Services, told the paper.

However, drivers say sharing a truck is rare because many companies prohibit it. Far more common, they say, are truckers who feel compelled to work long hours.

For example, Jose Juan Rodriguez, who drove for carrier Morgan Southern for five years, told USA Today he sometimes worked 16-hour shifts for days at a time – though the company disputes that claim. Rodriguez says he kept a bucket of ice water by his seat to splash on his face when he felt himself nodding off.

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Jose Arroyos, who drove for Lincoln Transportation, testified in a 2016 California Labor Commissioner case that he worked almost 15 hours a day, five days a week, for three years.

USAToday's analysis shows Lincoln Transportation trucks operated 5,200 times for more than 14 hours without a 10-hour stop. That is about 6% of company activity from 2013 to 2016. Lincoln trucks have been involved in 29 crashes that injured six people from 2013 to 2016, federal records show.

USAToday says one Lincoln driver died in 2014 after smashing into a FedEx truck broken down on a California freeway, after a breakneck pace of driving in previous days, though it is not clear if he violated HOS rules.

HOS Enforcement is Weak

The article also say that enforcement of HOS rules by state authorities is lax. For example, the USAToday analysis of five years of state inspection reports from 10 companies with histories of labor complaints found that of the more than 300 violations inspectors uncovered, only one involved a driver's hours on the road.

20 drivers from drayage carrier Pacific 9 testified in recent labor court cases that they worked up to 19 hours a day and wouldn't get paid until they falsified inspection reports. Pacific 9 has denied those allegations.

According to state records, Pacific 9 has not been cited for an hours or service violation in at least five years.

One Pacific 9 driver, Jon Wong Park, had worked more than 45 hours in less than three days 11 p.m. on March 26, 2014, the USAToday says port data show.

As he pulled into desert city of Victorville, he didn't see the woman crossing in front of him until it was too late. Bernice Williams went under the truck's grill and died from head injuries, though Park was only convicted of misdemeanor hit and run and faced no other charges.

Of course, there are new federal requirements for all trucks to have so-called electronic data loggers (ELDs) that went into place Dec. 18, which should make fudging of hours of service data nearly impossible, though the requirements are in effect being phased in.

So while the USAToday story highlights an unpleasant underside to the port drayage business, the violations and abuses seem likely to largely go away soon.

The full article can be found here: Asleep at the Wheel

Any reaction to this story by USATdoay? Are port drayage drivers commonly overworked? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


Your Comments/Feedback


Posted on: Jan, 01 2018
To editorial staff: We have an empirical data to support your story. Good job, very informative article :)



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