Line of freight trucks exiting a port for drayage services

What Is Truck Driver Detention?

What Is Truck Driver Detention?

Truck driver discussing truck detention with their employer

Your supply chain likely involves numerous moving parts, including a trucking company that transports your shipments. Staying on schedule while loading and unloading trucks can be challenging, though it is necessary to avoid truck driver detention.

As you attempt to reduce additional costs and streamline your loading dock processes, consider how truck driver detention factors into these areas. Truck detention can come as a surprise to many shippers, which is why it's ess

ential to understand the truck detention meaning.

What Is Detention Time in Trucking?

What does “detention” mean in the trucking industry? Essentially, it’s how long drivers are delayed while waiting for their trucks to be loaded. When drivers pick up a shipment, they expect it to take a specified amount of time. Any time exceeding that expected amount of time is known as driver detention time.

Drivers get paid for their time spent moving loads, not sitting and waiting for them. Detention helps compensate the drivers for the time they're delayed while waiting for their trucks to be loaded. While load times vary between shippers, the industry standard is that trucks should be loaded within two hours. After that, shippers are charged an hourly rate for detention pay, typically predetermined by the carrier company upon partnership.

Why Is Truck Detention Important to Avoid?

As a shipper and loader, truck detention is crucial to avoid. Delaying your truckers creates a snowball effect on downstream processes for all parties involved. Here are a couple of ways truck detention affects your business and reasons to avoid it:

1. Detention Pay and Costs Accumulate Quickly

Truck driver detention pay means additional costs for you to front. Taking too long to load a truck can cost a lot of money, especially as the hourly fees add up over time. Fees vary between trucking companies, though they can range from as low as $25-$50 an hour to as high as $100-$250 an hour.

At this rate, a full day of delays could end up costing a fortune in detention pay. Depending on the duration, you may have to bring in additional equipment to handle the backlog of trucks, which can further increase your costs. As a result, the Department of Transportation notes that drivers in the United States lose $1.2 billion every year from detention.

If you're unprepared, detention pay can be a highly unexpected cost that puts a dent in your checkbook. Avoiding truck detention is essential for saving on preventable costs.

2. Your Schedule Will Be Affected

Trucking detention has a significant impact on your schedule. Any delay creates a domino effect, delaying the rest of your schedule and creating a backlog of shipments that need to be loaded.

For example, let's say the first driver was scheduled to be loaded from 8 to 10 a.m. and the second was scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. If you take an extra hour to get the first shipment out, you're already starting the second shipment late. Then, if you take the full two hours, plus any additional detention time, the next shipments will continue being delayed.

A delay at one point in your logistics will create a delay in others, which will then set everything back and potentially continue to rack up detention pay costs. Resolving a backlog can also be difficult, as you'll likely have to work through a bottleneck as you try to catch up and send out your increasing amount of goods that need to be transported.

Avoid truck detention to stay on schedule and reduce the additional costs incurred.

How Do You Avoid Detention Pay?

Knowing how to avoid detention pay involves planning and understanding what's expected of you and your business. While some things are out of your control, you can do your part and have your teams as prepared as possible. Here are a few tips for avoiding detention in logistics:

1. Communicate Clearly

Clear communication resolves various issues throughout the supply chain, including truck loading delays. Communicating with trucking companies is vital to smooth loading and unloading processes.

Clear communication helps you set clear expectations for each other. For example, if you're scheduled to start shipping new products next month and anticipate the loading or unloading processes to take longer than normal, you need to make the trucking company aware of that so they can plan accordingly.

Drayage provider looking unhappy with communication issues

Clear communication with your loading dock staff is also vital. Without everyone on the same page, misunderstandings and delays are more likely. Ensure everyone knows the plan and is notified if something changes.

2. Create a Delay Action Plan

Regardless of how efficient your processes are, delays are bound to happen at some point or another. The key to overcoming delays and preventing them from spiraling is to have an action plan.

When your shippers fall behind, they may lack the resources or knowledge of how to catch back up. Creating a delay action plan provides you and your shippers with direct actions to prevent delays from getting out of hand.

For example, when your team is short-handed, know where you can get additional help. Whether you call in employees with the day off or outsource to find extra hands, creating a plan for situations that can result in delays will help you be better prepared.

3. Avoid Cutting Corners

While taking shortcuts and cutting corners can seem like a more efficient way of doing things, doing so often has the opposite effect. Cutting corners and shortcuts often leads to costly mistakes, accidents or mishaps. While trying to save yourself money, you may end up costing yourself even more.

4. Choose the Right Drayage Providers and Shipping Paths

Choose your drayage transportation providers and shipping paths carefully. The right partner will be transparent with you regarding fees and detention costs, often working with you to ensure success for both parties. Proper shipping paths can impact loading times and carrier timelines, too.

Drayage port worker smiling and holding a walkie talkie

Transport Cargo With Dr. Drayage

Partnering with the right cargo transportation provider is essential. At Dr. Drayage, we consider ourselves your trucking partner, which means we're fully transparent with you from the start and will offer unique care and dependability.

With a proven track record of reliably getting products where they need to be and the necessary trucking and logistical expertise, you'll find that we take our services seriously. Request a quote to get started today!