ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Transportation Research Institute Wednesday said an analysis of driver detention at customer facilities found that between 2014 and 2018, detention frequency and length increased with negative impacts on driver productivity, regulatory compliance and compensation.
The analysis is based on over 1,900 truck driver and motor carrier surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018.
Key findings include:
- Drivers reported a 27.4% increase in delays of six or more hours.
- Female drivers were 83.3% more likely than men to be delayed six or more hours.
- There was a nearly 40% increase in drivers who reported that the majority of their pick-ups and deliveries were delayed over the past 12 months because to customer actions.
- The average excessive detention fee per hour charged by fleets was $63.71, slightly less than the average per-hour operating cost of $66.65 found in ATRI’s Operational Costs of Trucking.
- The negative impact of detention on carrier revenue and driver compensation may be greater among smaller fleets (less than 50 power units), with 20% reporting that they do not charge for excessive detention in order to stay competitive with larger fleets.
Based on driver response in both 2014 and 2018, the greatest number of delays are dock-employee related (30.6% in 2018, 32.3% in 2014)
In both surveys, when asked what actions caused delays, overall respondents had similar answers.
When asked what actions caused delays, respondents in both the 2014 and 2018 surveys had similar answers.
In both surveys, drivers provided a plethora of negative comments — lazy, slow, apathetic, taking too many breaks — to describe dock workers at customer facilities, in addition to facilities constantly being understaffed, ATRI reported.
Secondly, almost one in five drivers complained that their preloaded trucks were not ready by the time of their appointment, products were not ready or were still being manufactured.
The third most common complaint in both driver surveys pertained to shippers and receivers overbooking appointments, booking more trucks than there are spaces/docks, and not having enough equipment to load and unload trucks.
“The similarities in the “cause of delay” responses between the two driver surveys likely reinforces that customer facilities have not made real improvements to their staffing, processes, accuracy or efficiency across the four-year time period,” the survey said.
Both drivers and carriers identified key customer practices that they believe will improve efficiency and minimize detention delays.
The two most often mentioned were “organized, better planning, better communication” and “better scheduling, extending hours and keep appointments.”
Others included “available space, equipment and employees,” “drop and hook operation” and “better skilled employees.”
ATRI cited two reasons the survey showed 83.3% of female driver respondents more likely to be delayed six hours or more.
Females represented a larger percentage of the 2018 dataset than the 2014 dataset (13.3% in 2018 compared to 8.3% in 2014) and many females driver are in the reefer segment, which has the highest rate of detention among all segments listed in the survey.
Females comprise 6.6% of the total driver population, ATRI said.
Given the findings concerning female drivers, ATRI developed an interview guide to discuss the analyses with female professional drivers, conducting a dozen interviews.
When presented with the differences in the delay times by gender, the majority of the interviewees were at first very surprised by the information and then mentioned that they didn’t believe the difference is the result of dock workers showing preference toward male drivers.
“When we back into a dock, the guys working don’t know what gender is driving the truck, nor do they care,” one female driver said. “We are drivers first, not male or female, drivers to them.”
Another driver indicated the difference might be the temperament of male and female drivers.
“I think male drivers have a shorter fuse than women when it comes to waiting,” another interviewee said. “I am less likely to go in and start drama and throw a fit because I’m not empty yet, as opposed to the guy next to me. A lot of my male driving friends become aggravated more quickly.”
One trucking executive talked about the importance of the research.
“ATRI’s new detention research definitely helps us understand the full financial impact associated with detaining drivers,” said Edgar R. McGonigal, chief financial officer of Bestway Express, Inc. “From a safety and economic perspective, this research gives the trucking industry new insight into how both carriers and drivers should implement driver detention strategies.”
A copy of this report is available from ATRI at TruckingResearch.org.
ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.