Driver Detention: How Do We Fix It?

By: Classadrivers.com

By Matt Sullivan, Marketing, DAT Solutions

If you feel like you’re wasting too many hours at the docks, you’re not alone. DAT surveyed 257 carriers and owner-operators, and 63% of them told us that the average amount of time they spend waiting for a shipper to get them loaded or unloaded is more than 3 hours. The vast majority of the carriers surveyed said that detention is one of the 5 biggest problems their companies face.

Like the old saying goes, if the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning. So, what can the industry do to fix the problem?

how long are drivers detained
The graph above shows responses from 257 carriers surveyed

For one, carriers and brokers can work together to hold shippers accountable. DAT also surveyed 50 brokers about how detention times affect their businesses, and the results showed a lack of communication between brokers and carriers. When brokers were asked how often the carriers they work with say that they’re detained, the most popular answer was 1-10% of the time. 

When the broker is able to collect from a shipper, the carrier is twice as likely to get paid detention fees. Two-thirds of the brokers said that they only pay detention when the shipper covers that expense. 

But detention fees are usually only $30 to $50 an hour. That doesn't help much, if getting detained means you’ve missed your next load. 

Others have also suggested putting together a website that lets carriers rate and review shippers. Each shipper would then get a score, which a carrier could look up before accepting a load. Or the carrier could take it into consideration when negotiating a rate.

"It’s a matter of fairness," said Don Thornton, Senior VP at DAT Solutions. "Many shippers and receivers are lax about their dock operations, but it's the carriers and drivers who are forced to pay for that inefficiency."

If the industry doesn’t work to find a solution, the government is probably going to step in. Last month, the Department of Transportation announced that it’s studying driver detention

How do we fix this?

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Note: This article was adapted from the TruckersEdge blog post. It was first published in July, 2016.