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Supply Chain News: Excess Detention Remains Major Issue for Carriers, Drivers


Besides Long Waits, Drivers Treated as If They Aren't Even There, DAT Survey Finds

July 19, 2016
SCDigest Editorial Staff

With all of the hullabaloo in recent years about truck driver pay - usually referenced from a rate per mile type perspective - less attention has been paid to the issue of the time it takes to drop off or pick up a load.

It's pretty simple: when the truck is not moving, carriers and drivers aren't making money, so detention really is an important part of the overall driver pay and shortage issue.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Perhaps most surprising, carriers report that overall they are not treated well by shippers while waiting to load or unload.

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A new survey of 257 carriers and about 50 brokers by DAT Solutions, which provides loadboard and other information services to the transport sector, finds detention times remain a sticky point for drivers and carriers.

First, what do drivers consider as excess detention? About 85% of the carrier respondents said that excess detention was anything beyond the traditional two-hour grace period to get the loading/unloading done. Another 15% said they defined excess detention differently, and while how those carriers defined it was made not clear, in another question about 10% of respondents said anything beyond a one hour wait was excessive.

The good news is about 85% of carriers also said they receive a set time window for service from shippers, versus again about 15% who said they usually face "first come, first serve" arrangements.

About 90% of respondents said that if they arrive early, they "sometimes" are able to load/unload early as well, with another 10% or so saying they "frequently" are able to get service early.

About 22% said that if they arrive late, they are "always" penalized in some way, and another 20% or so saying they are frequently penalized. About 42% say they are sometimes penalized, and 16% indicating they are never penalized.

But at the end of the day, carriers believe excess detention is a serious issue for their operations, as shown in the chart below. The survey indicated, for example, that about 128 of the 257 carriers responding (just about 50%) rated detention as a 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most serious operational issue. Another 24% rateed it a 4 on the same scale, meaning about three-quarters of respondents rated excess detention at a 4 or 5 level of seriousness.


Carriers See Excess Detention as Serious Operational Issue



Source: DAT Solutions

And that shouldn't be surprising, given that nearly 63% of drivers spend more than three hours at the shipper's dock each time they're getting loaded and unloaded, according to the survey results. Another 8% or so said the average wait was five hours or more.

Whether a carrier gets paid for excess detention is all over the map. About 12% of carrier respondents said they never get paid for excess detention, and another 35% said they get paid 10% or less of the time, by far the highest single percentage range in the results.

Conversely, about just 5% say they are paid detention charges 80% or more of the time when excess detention is experienced.

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If they are paid, 54% said they are paid $30 per hour of wait time, with about 18% between $31-40 per hour, 15% between $41-50, and 8% more than $50. A small percentage weren't sure what their average detention compensation was.


Perhaps most surprising, carriers report that overall they are not treated well by shippers while waiting to load or unload.  As shown in the cart below, about two-thirds says they are treated "as if I am not even there (invisible)" during such waits, versus just 5% or so who say they are usually treated with respect. That is a telling stat from SCDigest's perspective.


Drivers Not Well Treated While Waiting to Load or Unload



Source: DAT Solutions


Problems from excess detention are many, not surprisingly, and include missing next appointments, running out of service hours, and not wanting to do business anymore with that shipper any more.


There is talk off and on relative to the need for shippers to be the "customer of choice" for carriers, but that mindset doesn't seem supported by this data, and it always seems to fade when capacity becomes more loose, and is the case right now.

What are your thoughts on driver detention? Big issue? Are shippers the problem? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

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