Research has come up with hard dollars-and-cents numbers to help assess the costs of making truck drivers wait to load or unload freight.
The new data was released by the American Transportation Research Institute, the independent research arm of American Trucking Associations. The numbers are based on reports by more than 1,900 fleets polled in 2014 and again in 2018.
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 that is 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 (defined as those with fewer than 50 power units) due to the fact that 20% reported they don’t charge for excessive detention in order to stay competitive with larger fleets.
Drivers reported a 27.4% increase in delays of six or more hours. However, 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 loadings and deliveries were delayed during the previous 12 months because of customer actions.
“ATRI’s new detention research definitely helps us understand the full financial impact associated with detaining drivers,” says Edgar R. McGonigal, chief financial officer of Bestway Express.
“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.”
The numbers cited in the study only pertain to direct costs, ATRI points out. Driver detention at customer facilities also can result in a variety of other adverse safety and economic impacts.
A 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated detention costs drivers and fleets total more than $1 billion annually and may be associated with increased crash risk.
DOT said this also happens because unpredictability of loading and unloading times alters driving times, interferes with optimal sleep schedules for the drivers, undermining hours of service regulations.
Although women only make up about 6.6% of the total driving force, they reported that on average 55% of their appointments are delayed due to the actions of personnel at a customer facility, compared to 47% for men.
The 7.7% difference between men and women shows that women are not only detained longer, but are also detained more frequently, ATRI notes.
Curious about why, the researchers then interviewed a dozen women drivers, who were surprised to hear they were delayed more than men, and who didn’t think it had to do with dock workers favoring male drivers.
So, what was the cause? The women drivers think it is because their male colleagues are quicker to anger and object more often to being delayed.
“I think male drivers have a shorter fuse than women do when it comes to waiting,” one female driver 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.”
Both drivers and carriers identified key customer practices that they believe improve efficiency and minimize detention delays.
Respondents noted that customers who were well organized, utilized technology, maintained tightly managed schedules and appointments, and/or utilized as-needed extended business hours (“after-hours delivery”) greatly reduced delays.