The far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reverberate throughout the trucking industry. In turn, the entire country is also feeling the pinch of these issues with delays in loading and unloading times, labor shortages and safeguards that have been put in place to protect people from coronavirus.
Reasons for Increased Trucking Detention
High Freight Volume
Many companies have stepped up their production so that the availability of essential goods is reflective of the increased need. Companies who struggle with a lack of dock staff can create bottlenecks that are both unavoidable and that lead to unanticipated detention. Implementing the coordination of more robust supply chain systems is one way to combat this issue.
Lack of Communication
A lack of communication between shippers and trucking companies adds to detention. With a focus on increased collaboration and transparency, this amount could be significantly reduced. For example, companies can indicate to carriers regarding the availability of staff to load and unload an incoming truck.
Hoarding Supply Chain Time
Some companies use driver detention time to their full advantage as a way of building in more flexibility for their own needs. Not only does this inconvenience the truck drivers in question, but it also affects other shippers and companies that are counting on that driver.
Issues Faced by Drivers Due to Detention
It’s important to note that every driver is likely to have their own woes regarding excessive detention. Indeed, the issue isn’t new nor has it escaped the attention of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on more than one occasion. However, there has been a significant uptick in the problem starting as early as 2018. This was spurred by an increase in freight demand at the same time that truck capacity tightened.
Unfortunately, shipping and receiving companies seem to be unmoved by issues that both drivers and carriers face as the result of excessive detention. According to a survey of truck drivers, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) noted that six-hour delays or longer jumped by more than 27 percent between 2014 and 2018.
Reduced Annual Earnings
In January 2018, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which is part of the Department of Transportation, released a report that found that detention could slash a driver’s annual earnings by as much as $1,534 each year. Even though some of this loss might be offset by the detention fees paid by shippers, the trucking sector as a whole experiences detention costs of more than $1 billion annually.
Missed Pickups and Deliveries
Drivers who experience detention at the hands of shippers and receivers often must contend with a chain reaction that affects other companies. This can be in the form of missed pickups and deliveries or a reduction in their hours-of-service because their detention time cut into the time they were able to be productive.
Increased Crash Rates
According to the data gathered by the OIG as noted above, detention rates correlate to an increase in the expected rate of truck accidents. The agency’s data noted that the expected average crash rate increased by more than six percent. This means that more than 6,500 additional crashes annually could result. This could be the result of driver fatigue, increased speed in an effort to make up for the lost time, or another related issue.
Driver detention is an ongoing problem that has only gotten worse with the pandemic. It negatively affects drivers in the form of lost wages and an increased likelihood of crashes, as well as the entire supply chain itself. Freight is unable to get to the American public even though trucking capacity and driver ability is present.