Detention doesn’t only exist in high school or middle school as a punishment; it also exists in the trucking industry and is also seen in a NEGATIVE light. However, in school, detention is a direct result of one getting in trouble and facing the consequences. Detention in the trucking industry is the opposite; detention is derived from shipping or receiving facilities and causes consequences for everyone in the supply chain— other shippers, customers, truck drivers, and trucking companies.
Detention is when a driver’s route is delayed at either the origin pick up or the destination delivery location for more than the agreed upon free time.1 This holds up the driver from making their other appointments and possibly causing the driver to run out of legal driving hours, both of these causing huge consequences. Consequences would include missing other appointments due to the driver not being able to meet them because of their hours being up or the simple fact that this previous delivery took too long. This looks bad on the trucking company for their other customers and may result in loss of business. Also there may be customers DEPENDING on the freight to stock their shelves. In the trucking industry, instead of being a “punishment,” there is a “punishment” for detention. Detention charges are used to compensate the driver and carrier when they are held up; the charges usually start after 2 hours and continue on from then.
A survey was conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) in 2014 and again in 2018. In 2014, nearly 83% of respondents said they ran out of available hours as a result of detention. This dipped slightly in 2018 to 79%.2 The respondents of this survey said that the number one reason for detention in both 2014 and 2018, was slow dock workers or understaffed facilities. The second reason was that their preloaded trucks were not ready at the time of their appointment and also products not being ready —some of which still being manufactured! The third reason was shippers overbooking appointments.
This survey found that each segment of trucking was affected differently by detention. Refrigerated trailers were most likely to report delays of four or more hours— in fact, more than a third of refrigerated respondents in 2018 had experienced these excessive delays. There was an increase in the percentage of respondents in the refrigerated segment who reported long delays, of four or more hours, growing from 30% in 2014 to almost 37% in 2018.
Results of the survey also showed a difference in gender — which is an issue that is very relevant in the trucking industry. In the 2018 survey, female drivers were more likely to experience longer wait times. “Male drivers who check in more frequently or express more consternation than women appear likely to be loaded/unloaded sooner,” the report noted. Female drivers are also more likely to drive reefer trailers, which could contribute to the difference, the survey found.2 Men were detained more frequently than women up to the two-hour mark, but after two hours women were detained longer in every category assessed in ATRI’s research.3 On average, women reported approximately 55 percent of their appointments being delayed due to the actions of personnel at a customer facility, compared to 47 percent for men. The 7.7 percentage point difference between men and women showed women are not only detained longer, but are also detained more frequently. 3 Some of the female drivers then responded that they didn’t see the delays as an issue of discrimination, but rather the patient nature of women in general. That patience can be playing the same role in detention than it does in women being safer than men, according to the crash predictor report. Some women truck drivers say that the dock workers don’t know who is driving the truck unless there is a guard shack to check in at. Ingrid Brown, a reefer hauler and independent owner-operator and sole proprietor of her own company, Rollin’ B LLC, agreed that extended detention at the dock wasn’t a case of wide-spread sexism.3 She suggested that female drivers, who tend to be newer to the industry with less experience overall, could be causing their own delays by simply not being ready when their turn comes. Deb LaBree, independent owner operator of Castle Transport and a Landstar lessee, took part in the survey and said she was surprised to see the disproportionate number of women enduring extended detention primarily, she said, because it’s rarely an issue for her.3 LaBree agreed that drivers unfamiliar with check-in and follow up procedures are likely self-inflicting at least part of their own delays. She added that before her scheduled stops, mostly to pick up or drop off refrigerated pharmaceuticals, she’s already gathered as much information as she can to ensure she’s prepared before she ever approaches the dock.3 Both of these women disagreed that even if women are a little more passive and stay level headed they are both there to do their job. In any instance of wait time; LaBree said follow up is key, as is respectfully checking in and asking for updates. However, she says there’s a difference in being passive and being respectful.3
Shippers with better organization, planning and communication were able to increase their efficiency and minimize delays, carrier and driver respondents said. This, along with better scheduling and extended hours, were considered by a majority of respondents to be strategies for reducing delays.2 The causes in both surveys were almost identical and at the same rate of response, meaning that shipping and receiving facilities have made little to no improvements to run more efficiently in the last FOUR YEARS!