Should You Get Detention Pay as a Truck Driver?

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Truck drivers work hard to pick up and deliver their loads on time. As they move their loads from pick up to delivery they are largely in control of their timing. They have to adjust to traffic conditions, weather, and mechanical issues, all while remaining compliant with hours of service regulations. However, they cannot control the length of time it takes for a shipper or receiver to load/unload the shipment. When a driver is delayed or detained at either end of their route, a chain reaction occurs that cuts into a driver and/or carrier’s revenue. To alleviate the financial damage incurred by detentions, carriers have instituted trucking detention pay.  

What Is Detention Pay for Truck Drivers?

Detention pay is the trucking industry’s solution to the problem of delays associated with loading and unloading. Unusually long wait times on either end of a driver’s route places the driver in a situation where they are performing work without compensation. Delays cut into the driver’s earnings and the carrier’s profits. There’s also a trickle down effect where loads have to be rescheduled when a driver is detained and contributes to supply chain bottlenecks across the board.

Detention fees generally begin incurring after a driver has been detained a minimum of two hours. The responsibility for paying the fee usually falls on the shipper. However, it is also common that larger contracts covering many loads will have a minimum detention time of greater length, and responsibility for payment may fall on the receiver under certain circumstances. 

Is Detention Pay Good or Bad for Truck Drivers?

Detention pay is always good for truck drivers and carriers. It is unreasonable to expect a driver to sit in a lot or at a dock for a prolonged period without compensation – that is time they could be using to make money elsewhere. For carriers, it’s a matter of professional courtesy between the carrier and the shipping or receiving facility. For the driver and carrier both, it’s a method used to recoup a portion of the profits lost due to detentions. 

Drivers are working with limited hours. They have 14 hours they can work per day, and 11 hours of that is allocated for driving time. If a detention runs past two hours, their timetable is seriously disrupted. They may have to reschedule or miss their next load, causing further financial losses and negative impacts on their working relationships. Beyond that, the driver needs to find a safe place to park for the night before their hours of service run out. 

Detention pay in trucking also has positive benefits for shippers and receivers who may end up footing the bill. It functions as a method of accountability for warehouse managers and personnel. It can also serve as a way for shipping and receiving departments to measure their efficiency. For example, if a business has a chronic problem with detaining drivers, the losses incurred through detention fees work as motivation to improve operations and hold specific teams or employees accountable for the losses.

There’s a greater systemic benefit if shippers and receivers strive to reduce how much they are paying detention fees – decreased supply chain bottlenecks. That’s a win for everybody. 

How to Calculate Your Detention Fee?

To charge detention fees fairly and accurately it’s best to include your detention arrangement with the load contract. According to the most recent industry data, detention fees are $25 - $100/hour on average. Detention fees generally kick in at the 2 hour mark.

ELDs make it possible to accurately track detention times down to the minute, so you should ensure you and your drivers are marking their arrival and departure times at customer facilities. Bear in mind that some customers may prefer to go off of check in and check out times. In those instances, make sure you and/or your drivers make a note of these times using the ELD as well. 

  • Make sure a detention fee arrangement is a part of your load contract so you can reliably collect detention fees.
  • Because detentions are so costly to drivers and carriers, you should always aim for the high end of the detention fee average. 
  • Some customers may request a longer detention time before fees kick in. When this happens, weigh the value of that customer’s business against your needs.
  • Keep in mind that some facilities have a reputation for unduly long detention times – some as long as 24 hours, believe it or not. Many carriers have recently taken to blacklisting these locations due to the cumulative losses incurred by unnecessarily long wait times. Always consider reputation before accepting a load contract because if you’re going to lose 2 – or even potentially 8, 12, or 24 – hours, it’s not worth your time to haul the load. 

Detention pay for truckers is an essential method for carriers and drivers to protect themselves from inefficient warehousing operations. It is unreasonable to expect someone to work without compensation and detention fees are an assured way to avoid such a situation. Detention pay is beneficial for everyone in the supply chain. It compensates drivers and carriers for the time they lose due to detention, and it helps shippers and receivers who foot the bill for detention by presenting a method by which to identify and address problems and inefficiencies in their warehouses.

Say goodbye to the stress and hassle of navigating detention pay as an owner-operator. CloudTrucks is here to support you and help you succeed. Our comprehensive suite of services will empower you to maximize your earning potential and take control of your career. You don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Join us now and experience the difference we can make for you.

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