In the trucking industry driver detention is a real issue. As a truck driver you likely have experienced driver detention first-hand, especially if you’re a long haul truck driver. But what exactly is driver detention, and why should you care?
- 1 Detention Pay for Truck Drivers
- 2 Detention Fees and Rates
- 3 How to Calculate Detention Rate and Payments
- 4 Reasons for Detention
- 5 How Driver Detention Contributes to Truck Drivers’ Frustration
- 6 Why Driver Detention Should Be Avoided
- 7 How to Avoid Truck Driver Detention
- 8 Why Avoid Paying Detention Fees
- 9 What the Government is Doing to Combat Driver Detention
- 10 Conclusion
Driver detention occurs when a truck driver is held at a shipping facility, warehouse, or port for an extended period of time after arriving for their scheduled pickup or delivery. This can happen for a number of reasons, including but not limited to late shipments, incorrect paperwork, or unexpected traffic.
While driver detention may seem like a minor inconvenience, it actually costs trucking companies and their drivers a lot of money every year. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the real cost of driver detention and what you can do to reduce or avoid it altogether.
Detention Pay for Truck Drivers
Detention pay is a form of compensation that is given to truck drivers who are waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Long delays happen either at a receiver waiting for delivery to be unloaded or at a shipper or facility waiting for the trucks to be loaded. Either way, when truck drivers are waiting instead of being on the road, they need to be compensated.
Detention compensation is given to the truck driver after the 2 hour window to load and unload is exceeded and during that time the driver is not able to move their truck and is not able to be productive.
Detention Fees and Rates
Detention fees are what shippers and receivers are charged for the time a truck driver spends waiting for your load. The rate is usually a percentage of the total cost of the load, and it’s calculated from the time your driver arrives at the pickup location until he or she leaves.
Normally, detention fees start accruing after 2 hours of wait time. There are often minimum fees that apply, regardless of how long your driver is actually detained. Rates range from $25 to $100 an hour.
How to Calculate Detention Rate and Payments
Shippers and receivers typically have a 2 hour window to load and unload a truck. Detention occurs when the truck driver is detained or delayed anytime after the 2 hour window. However, if the trucking firm or owner operator are working through a broker, detention rates have typically already been arranged with the shippers and receivers. If this is so, you won’t need to figure out your detention rate.
If you’re not using a broker it’s important to calculate your detention rate and payments. The calculation for this is based on operational costs per day such as:
- Truck wear and tear
- Maintenance costs
- Insurance premiums
- Payroll costs
Once you have all these costs calculated, you can go ahead and divide it by 24 hours to get your driver detention rate —the amount paid for each additional hour beyond agreed-upon times for delivery and pickup.
Reasons for Detention
Here are some of the most common factors that contribute to delays:
- Poor infrastructure at the loading and unloading site that prevents efficiency
- Incorrect documentation
- Delay due to cargo inspection or customs clearance
No matter what the reason is, one thing’s for sure — detention can be expensive and can really put a dent in your profits if it isn’t managed properly.
How Driver Detention Contributes to Truck Drivers’ Frustration
If you’re a truck driver, you may know all too well the feeling of frustration when it comes to detention time. Detention is a prolonged wait for drivers upon arrival at an outbound or inbound facility. It increases crash risk by using drivers’ waking hours. This can lead to fatigue while driving.
Not only does the long wait cause frustration and stress, but it can also create additional hours of work and costs that add up quickly. Detention time affects overall productivity and often leads to the loss of customer relationships by delaying shipments or deliveries.
Prolonged detention also increases driver stress levels which can lead to further delays due to health concerns and result in even higher costs for fleets.
However, one of the most significant contributors to truck driver dissatisfaction and why the industry is having difficulty in retaining truckers, is that delays affect their pay. Drivers make money when they’re on the road driving. So if they’re detained, their earnings go down.
The HOS (Hours of Service) permit truck drivers 14 hours of work time each day, in which 11 of those for driving. When a trucker is detained at a shipper or receiver, driver’s profits go down. And there are ramifications for excess time when truckers are idle, such as not meeting an unloading time or missing out on another load due to a missed pickup time. These scenarios have adverse effects on a truck driver’s reputation, and cost the truck driver money.
Why Driver Detention Should Be Avoided
First off, detention can put additional stress on drivers. According to the FMCSA, the longer a trucker spends waiting on a shipper or receiver, the more likely they are to experience fatigue or make mistakes while on the road.
Second, detention costs money. When factoring in wages and opportunity costs — lost miles, delays in getting to the next load, and so forth — even a couple of hours of detention can add up quickly.
Third, detention also has an impact on customer service. If your customers have time-sensitive delivery requirements that you can’t meet because of driver detention, then it could damage relationships and harm your reputation as a reliable carrier.
So what it all boils down to is this: driver detention is something to avoid at all costs if you want to save time and money and protect your business from risk.
How to Avoid Truck Driver Detention
In order to protect yourself from driver detention, the first step is to understand the factors that might lead to it in the first place. Many of these factors are within your control.
For starters, try to plan ahead so that you are leaving early enough in the day and arriving close to your expected arrival time. This will not only mean you spend less time waiting on site, but it also allows for any delays along the way due to traffic or unexpected events.
You should also make sure you have all of your paperwork ready and up-to-date before arriving at your destination. That means everything from bills of lading, manifests, and other necessary documents should be checked over in advance.
Finally, communication is another key factor in avoiding detention delays. Keeping all relevant parties informed about when you’ll depart or arrive is essential for smooth deliveries and helps to avoid extra costs associated with driver detention.
Why Avoid Paying Detention Fees
There are plenty of reasons why you should avoid detention fees at all costs, the biggest being that they can really add up. When drivers are repeatedly charged for detention, it puts a serious financial strain on their business.
Plus, detention fees cut into the driver’s revenue—which means they’re getting less money than they were expecting when they took the job. And in some cases, these fees can be exorbitant—from $25-$100 per hour!
If you want to keep your costs (and sanity) under control and maintain a good reputation with customers and carriers alike, it’s in your best interest to avoid detention fees as much as possible.
What the Government is Doing to Combat Driver Detention
The driver compensation measure is just one of the provisions in Title V of the Grow America Act, but it’s what really catches the attention of the industry. This proposal is in response to Anne S. Ferro, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, who once stated that driver delays and driver detention by shippers are a safety concern and that the agency is ready to implement regulatory measures.
The proposal mentions drivers being “frequently held for long periods at shippers’ or receivers’ facilities”, but the language applies to any time that drivers are on duty, but not driving. However, it does provide an exception for drivers who are already covered by a collective bargaining arrangement.
In DOT’s announcement about the Grow America Act, Anne Ferro, FMCSA Administrator, stated that the proposed legislation would ensure fair pay for long-distance truck and bus drivers who often get paid by mileage. Industry groups are not ignoring the measure, even though they recognize that it is a difficult measure to follow.
The fact is, driver detention is costing you money. Every minute your drivers spend waiting, costs you money, and it can add up quickly. Not only that, but it can also have a negative impact on your customer service and reputation.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to help reduce driver detention, and it’s important to implement as many of them as possible. By taking a proactive approach to driver detention and making some small changes to your operations, you can save yourself time and money.
Marina was in corporate communications for over 15 years before becoming a freelance writer. She's been writing about transportation, and the supply chain and trucking industry for over five years. Her father was in the trucking and logging business which exposed her to the industry. Her passions include travel, nature and entrepreneurship.