"Detention is Killing Us" Say Carriers

"Detention is killing us."

That pretty much sums up how carriers feel about driver detention, as related in a recent DAT survey of 257 carriers and 50 freight brokers. Of the carriers surveyed, 84% said detention is one of the top five problems affecting their business. By contrast, only 24% of the freight brokers agreed that detention was one of their top five problems.

While brokers may feel that detention is out of their control — after all, the problem lies with the shipper or receiver — carriers clearly see the broker as the customer. And when the economy picks up, and capacity becomes tight, carriers will remember how brokers treated them during these challenging times.

Detention leads to loss of loads

SURVEY SAYS

See the complete results of DAT's survey about driver detention.

Many carriers reported that they were compensated for only a fraction of their detention time, and their comments made it clear that those fees were not sufficient. Carriers often miss out on their next load when trucks are detained. One owner-operator reported losing two loads, with combined revenue of $1,900, because his truck was detained at a receiver’s dock.

A driver wrote: "I do not want to spend my time fighting for a few dollars of detention pay. My company loses 1-2 working days in a 10-day period due to unreliable unloading times."

Another trucker observed that detention has grown worse as capacity has loosened up. "Remember the winter of 2014?" he asked. "There was almost no detention, or detention was paid right away. Why? Because freight was much greater than carrier capacity."

Brokers and carriers view issue differently

The DAT survey also revealed a lack of communication between carriers and brokers. For example, when carriers were asked how often they were detained over the course of the year, the most common answer was 31-40%. When brokers were asked how often their carriers reported being detained, the most popular answer was 1-10%.

Brokers and carriers also had conflicting views on compensation. When carriers were asked how much they received for detention time, more than half (54%) said they were paid less than $30 per hour. When brokers were asked about the standard hourly detention rate, only 16% said they paid less than $30 per hour.

Federal government studying detention

"Driver detention is an urgent issue that must be addressed by our industry. 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."

Thornton urged brokers and 3PLs to examine their business practices, in order to address detention issues. If not, the government could step in and impose a solution on the industry.

In fact, the Department of Transportation announced last month that it is collecting data on the effects of driver detention. During Congressional hearings on Hours of Service, regulators noted that detention time causes travel delays and lost wages, and it can lead to safetys, as truckers make up for lost time by driving faster or operating past their on-duty limits.



Pat Pitz

Pat Pitz is the editor of the DAT Solutions freight broker newsletter. He has nearly 20 years experience as a professional writer and editor. Before joining DAT, he spent 8 years at a Portland advertising and public relations agency, where he wrote newsletters and other content for a variety of high-profile clients, including several in the trucking industry.



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