Study: Driver Detention Getting Worse, Not Better

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When we read stories about how badly the trucking industry is struggling with hiring and retaining new drivers, one of the biggest factors that comes up is driver detention issues. 

The American Transportation Research Institute recently released the results of a study of the safety and productivity impacts of driver detention at customer facility locations. The study included information gathered from both 2014 and 2018, and as you may imagine driver detention statistics are only getting worse. 

“(Detention) length has increased with negative impacts on driver productivity, regulatory compliance, and compensation,” the study’s authors said.

Key findings from the report include:

  • A 40 percent increase in the number of drivers who said most of their pick-ups and deliveries were delayed during the past 12 months because of customer actions
  • 27 percent more drivers reported delays of 6 hours or more
  • 11 percent more drivers reported delays of 2 hours or more
  • Women drivers were 83 percent more likely to face detention of 6 hours or more
  • Fleets with fewer than 50 trucks were impacted most greatly by detention because they generally do not charge for excessive detention in order to remain competitive
  • The average cost of per hour excessive detention fees was $63.71

Little has been done to address detention issues across the industry over the four years studied by the ATRI’s report. Survey respondents said they blamed detention issues on a number of factors, including:

  • Lazy, slow or apathetic dockworkers
  • Too many breaks taken by dock employees
  • Understaff dock facilities
  • Preloaded trucks not ready at the agreed upon pick up time
  • Overbooked pickup appointments at the dock

In addition to the problems discussed by the report, possible solutions were also detailed. Customer practices that Increase efficiency and minimize delay include:

  • Organized, better planning, better communication 
  • Better scheduling, extending hours and keeping appointments
  • Available space, equipment, and employees
  • Drop and hook operation 
  • Better skilled employees

To read the entire ATRI detention report, download it here.