Increasingly over the years, truckers have called for the industry to step up and pair a stick to the many carrots that exist for shippers to improve load/unload efficiency at freight docks. Detention pay’s inclusion in customer contracts is one such stick, and as discussions continue around the trucking industry about the potential for expanding the prevalence of compensation for excess wait time, from voluntary to mandated solutions, freight-matching provider DAT Solutions has issued a new report on the broader issue based on a survey of both carriers and brokers in its load-board network.
Driver detention is an urgent issue that must be addressed by the industry, cautioned DAT Senior Vice President Don Thornton. “It’s a matter of fairness,” he said. “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.”
Nearly 63 percent of commercial truck drivers spend more than three hours at a shipper’s dock waiting for their vehicle to be loaded and unloaded, according to a the survey. Of the 247 carriers surveyed, 54 percent reported typical detention times of three to four hours, while 9 percent said it was common to be detained five or more hours.
Among motor carriers, detention is one of the top five business problems they face, said 84 percent of the survey respondents. By contrast, among the 50 freight brokers who responded to the survey, only 20 percent agreed that detention was one of their top five problems — almost 80 percent said other issues had a bigger impact on their business.
Both brokers and carriers defined detention as holding a driver and truck at the dock for more than two hours while loading or unloading. Most of the carriers surveyed said they are seldom paid for detention, and when payment is offered, it does not cover the full business cost that results from the delay.
Only 3 percent of carriers were paid on 90 percent or more of their detention claims, at a rate between $30 and $50 per hour, according to survey respondents. Even when the claims were paid, however, that level of compensation did not cover the opportunity costs to their business — most brokers, meanwhile, as is the situation at many sizable carriers, reported only paying detention when collected from shipper/consignee customers. Two-thirds of brokers fell into this category.
Brokers who were reimbursed by their shipper customers were twice as likely to compensate carriers for detention. Carriers were often forced to turn down other loads while their trucks were detained and unavailable. One owner-operator reported losing two loads, with combined revenue of $1,900, because his truck was detained too long at a receiver’s dock.