Solving the Problem of Detention

detention payThe detention time placed on drivers’ shoulders takes an unnecessary and frustrating bite out of earnings. According to reports about a 2018 survey, 25.8 percent of drivers waited more than the industry standard limit of 2 hours, and an additional 23 percent experienced detention of more than 4 hours before being able to log billable hours.

What may be even more concerning are the details in the study. Detention times of 2 hours and higher rose sharply from 2014 to 2018. The research indicates that excessive waits of 2-4 hours increased by 1.7 percent, those of 4-6 hours went up 1.3 percent, and grossly excessive detention times of more than 6 hours rose 2 percent. These are the periods that take a big bite out of the a truck driver's paycheck and may prevent a trucker from being fairly compensated. To say that truck driver detention pay has not always kept pace with these delays would be something of an understatement.

Problems with Truck Detention Time Law

Rising detention periods, sometimes called “layovers” in the trucking industry, have become more challenging under the strict Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) drivable hours regulations. Under the rules, a CDL professional can only log 11 on-duty hours daily during a 14-hour shift. And the maximum drivable hours over a 7-day workweek is limited to 60 hours. The integration of electronic logging devices (ELDs) now monitors truck driver hours.

Under the current laws, the unnecessary detention time trucking professionals experience is generally not exempt. The FMCSA considers any activity that advances your load to be “on-duty” hours. These are pertinent rules regarding on-duty time, according to the FMCSA.

  • All time at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless you have been relieved from duty by the motor carrier.
  • All time loading, unloading, supervising, or attending your truck; or handling paperwork for shipments.

The use of ELDs to track driver times has been something of a double-edged sword in the industry. The heightened on-duty monitoring no longer allows drivers to overcome the impediments caused by disorganized trucking companies and warehouses. There is zero wiggle room in terms of FMCSA compliance because it’s all measured by hard data. But the ELDs can also be used to get duly-owed truck driver detention pay. There’s no escaping the fact that truckers endure excessive wait times and have lost wages.

The Problem of Getting Adequate Truck Driver Detention Pay Compensation

According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Department of Transportation, truck drivers lose an estimated $1.1 to $1.3 billion in wages every year due to detention. Obviously, it is fundamentally unfair to basically tax the hard-working men and women who deliver our goods and materials due to disorganization, unprofessionalism, or incompetence.

The industry standard layover time is pegged at a maximum of 2 hours. After that, carriers are tasked with paying drivers out-of-pocket for the excessive wait times. Among the many problems, some companies set hourly compensation as lows as $15 per hour. That rate does not reflect the wages professional CDL drivers would be earning if they were on the road and logging billable hours. Even companies that pay over-the-road (OTR) drivers higher compensation of $25 to $50 may be undercutting an owner-operator’s actual value. It goes without saying that truckers want to work, not sit around waiting for paperwork that should already be ready.

Experienced drivers have a few options to get the fair compensation they deserve. They can utilize the ELD to support their claim and insist on appropriate value. Less experienced drivers are too often hesitant to rock the boat with employers for fear of losing work. Given the current driver shortage, putting together a professional invoice or other detention pay request may prompt the company to pony up. Keep in mind, even big companies are worried about losing drivers to competitors these days.

Some carriers have snubbed paying part or all of the detention compensation. Many OTR truckers are taking advantage of the economic boom and avoiding working with unethical or disorganized freight companies and warehouses. Although CDL professionals may be frustrated with excessive detention periods, the problem is one the freight industry is tasked with fixing or suffer driver shortages.

Companies Must Improve Logistics, Reduce Detention Time Trucking Losses

The surging economy has resulted in every available 18-wheeler being put to use. It might be easy for a trucking company to pass the buck and claim that the overburdened industry is a primary reason for growing wait times. That type of claim falls short because freight-hauling operations are maximizing their profitability in this robust economy. That means they have rarely had the financial flexibility and resources to invest in improved logistics, additional warehouse workers, and administrative personnel. These are things companies can do to shorten detention time and improve efficiency.

  • Stagger Pickups: Too many shippers try to fit the maximum number of pickups into shifts. That often results in log jams, backed-up load times, and paperwork not being ready. Staggering pickup schedules so there is a reasonable amount of time for warehouse and admin people to coordinate a seamless load and pull-out saves money and aggravation.  
  • Extend Hours of Operation: For business operations that are only running one or two shifts, there has never been a better time to add additional hours or another shift. This not only reduces the amount of truck driver detention time pay you owe, but it also adds to profitability. This is a growth period that trucking executives would be wise leverage.
  • Niche Loading Platforms: Plenty of warehouses run general loading docks. But there are certain goods that make sense to set aside as for specialization. Whether those goods and materials are fragile or sensitive in other ways, niche docks can streamline certain shipping elements and reduce wait times.  
  • Increase Number of Loading Dock Doors: Warehouses are expanding all across the country, and facilities that have additional room could benefit from increased platforms. Those that are maxed out might want to consider expanding to increase traffic and profits.
  • Drop-Hook Options: Warehouses tend not to like drop-hook programs because that can leave them at the mercy of a truck driver’s return. Such programs allow drivers to not count the layover as part of their on-duty hours under specific FMCSA guidelines. Freight companies may consider weighing the cost of detention pay for truck drivers against the risk of a bay door being occupied longer than necessary.
  • More Warehouse Workers: Plenty of delays come down to facilities not having enough warehouse professionals to keep pace with the number of trucks and orders going out. No one in the trucking industry saves money by being short-staffed.
  • Improved Logistics: Living in the technology age has opened doors for trucking companies to update logistics technology and improve precision. Blockchain technologies and others allow companies to track products from the manufacturer all the way through the supply chain to a retail outlet’s shelves. Having the latest freight-hauling logistics technology can significantly improve efficiency and curb unnecessary truck driver detention.

Avoid Unnecessary Truck Driver Detention Pay Losses

The trucking industry is enjoying a banner period, and good-paying careers as a professional CDL driver are abundant. Like any occupation, there are problems that need to be resolved to maximize everyone’s earning capacity. Although truckers may get frustrated by delays, keep in mind that companies will either improve their efficiency, pay you fair compensation, or drivers will work with better-organized operations. Fortunately for industry professionals, there are plenty of truck driving jobs available and you won’t have to wait to find new opportunities.

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