15 Minutes of Detention Increases Crash Rate by 6.2%, According to Study

Drivers have yet another reason to loathe detention time at docks.  According to a study recently released by the Department of Transportation, which analyzed over 104,000 crashes from 2013, just a 15 minute increase in detainment at a shipper/consignee’s dock, led to a 6.2% increase in crash risk. (1)  This equates to an additional 1 in 1,000 trucks having an accident and nearly 6,500 additional crashes a year. (1,2)

Why the increase?  Fatigue from waiting so long was one factor indicated by research, while another had to deal with productivity concerns.  According to a report by KeepTruckin, “75% of drivers are detained at a shipper for more than two hours a week, and some 35% are held up for more than six hours each week,” leading these drivers to travel an average 3.5 mph faster, feeling pressured to make their next stop or make up for lost time. (3) 

Shippers and receivers who require appointments or detain the driver would contribute to a driver possibly running out of hours, as their clock is still ticking whether they are driving or waiting to be loaded/unloaded, leaving them stranded and/or taking a financial hit.

The study showed that detention costs the industry between $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion a year, which trickles down to nearly $1,281-$1,534 per driver and $250.6 million-$302.9 million for carriers annually. (1)

In order to help soften the blow, many carriers have detention fees in place; however, compensation does not always find its way back to the driver.  According to the report, a 2015 study conducted by the American Transportation Research Survey found that only “60% of carriers passed ‘some portion of these fees to their drivers.’” (1)

We reached out to drivers regarding their experiences with detention and here were our takeaways:

-Drivers are becoming more impatient as they watch their on duty hours tick away.  If they don’t get loaded/unloaded in a reasonable amount of time, many are leaving the docks and moving on to another.

-Many carriers are staying clear and refusing loads from shippers/consignees who have a history of detaining drivers.  These customers get put on a ‘do not haul’ list and often include grocery warehouses.

-The advancement in technology and ability to link a GPS location with a time stamp is giving carriers the backup they need when taking an aggressive approach to collecting detention.  Shippers/receivers who see detention charges as an assault on their bottom line will pressure their operations to become more efficient.

-More and more carriers/drivers are opting for drop and hook opportunities, cutting the time spent at docks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to discuss both the issue of detention with industry stakeholders as well as “adding a reporting form to its website that drivers and carriers can use to voluntarily submit the information,” by Dec. 31, 2019. (2)