For years, drivers have been complaining about “detention time” because it has been eating into their productivity. For the most part drivers are paid by the mile, therefore while they are being detained during the loading and unloading processes, they receive no money. They’re only paid while the wheels are turning.
But the problem has been exacerbated by the hours of service rules and regulations that don’t stop during detention.
The hours of service run by the clock, not on whether the driver is being productive. If a driver is detained now, productivity is starting to hurt the carriers.
The carriers and their associations are taking notice, finally, and with their lobbying power are making waves in government circles to mandate a fairer approach to handling detention time.
The detention issue is a thorny one because it is something that is beyond the carrier’s immediate control. While many trucking companies complain about delays at shippers’ facilities, relatively few actually seek or receive detention pay and, in fact, many do not even raise the issue for fear of losing business.
Carriers are quite efficient at the business of solving all those logistical problems that come under their purview. They cannot control or even become efficient when dealing with inefficiencies of a shipper or a receiver.
While a number of shippers and receivers have begun to recognize the importance of this issue and have worked closely with carriers to reduce wait times, the vast majority still view this as not being their problem. Unfortunately, many shippers view trucking companies and their drivers as a commodity rather than a valued partner. They see themselves as customers and the trucking company and its drivers as responsible for making whatever changes are needed to accommodate their needs. If that trucking company complains about delays, they merely seek another carrier.
Realizing that delays at shipper facilities affect many areas, including driver retention, the number of additional drivers and equipment needed by trucking, operational costs, hours of service, truck parking, traffic congestion (in some areas trucks are in long queues awaiting loading) and others, it is far too important to ignore.
Shippers and trucking companies also should recognize that the detention issue has not gone unnoticed by others. In the Obama administration’s proposed transportation reauthorization bill, there is language that would require trucking companies “to compensate drivers for on-duty/not-driving periods.” While the political likelihood of the inclusion of this provision in the final bill is unlikely, this issue will not go away. Instead, we can anticipate that the problem to generate greater attention as the driver shortage, traffic delays, hours of service and other issues tied to this problem continue to grow.