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Truck driver detention times create a lingering problem

July 18, 2016
Nearly 63% of drivers spend more than three hours at a shipper’s dock waiting to get loaded and unloaded, according to a recent survey by DAT Solutions.

Nearly 63% of drivers spend more than three hours at a shipper’s dock waiting to get loaded and unloaded, according to a recent survey by DAT Solutions.

Of the 247 carriers surveyed, 54% reported typical detention times of three to four hours, while 9% said it was common to be detained five or more hours.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News

Detention is one of the top five business problems facing carriers, according to 84% of the survey respondents. By contrast, among the 50 freight brokers who responded to the survey, only 20% agreed that detention was one of their top five problems, while 78% said other problems 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 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% of carriers were paid on 90% or more of their detention claims, at a rate between $30 and $50 per hour, according to survey respondents. Even when claims were paid, however, that compensation did not cover the opportunity costs to their business. 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.

“Driver detention is an urgent issue that must be addressed by our industry,” said Don Thornton, senior vice-president at DAT Solutions. “It’s a matter of fairness. 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.”

Freight brokers who were reimbursed by their shipper customers were twice as likely to compensate carriers for detention. Two-thirds of brokers surveyed said they paid detention only when they could collect the fee from the shipper or consignee, while the other one-third of brokers paid detention whenever carriers complained.

Full details of the DAT Detention Survey can be found at

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