If you own or manage a fleet, you know that hiring and retaining drivers is a very real issue right now. You want to keep the drivers you have happy, and that means you must maintain efficient schedules to ensure your team is productive and working time directive-compliant. But if your drivers must wait to load and unload the truck at every stop, your carefully planned schedule goes out the window, customers start to complain and profits disappear.
Truck driver detention time is a very real issue and has become even worse as the global supply chain becomes increasingly complex. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, driver detention refers to the amount of time that a driver is delayed at a stop while waiting for the team at the dock to load or unload the trucks. For working time directive purposes, it means that a driver is delayed for more than 2 hours during pick up or delivery. After this 2-hour ‘free time’ period, most fleets will charge a detention charge—to compensate the driver and carrier for the interruption to their schedule.
While that charge seems reasonable at first glance, if the delay is lengthy enough, the driver could run out of legal driving hours or miss later appointments. This means lost revenue for both the driver and the carrier. Current regulations state that a driver can only be on duty for a maximum of 14 hours, with 11 of those spent driving. There are hundreds of factors that can affect a route, but studies have shown that detention is the biggest factor in deferred schedules.
In 2019, ATRI, did a study on driver detention. Here are some of the stats that they found.
The same study found that the average commercial truck driver will only drive for about 7 hours per day, which is well below the 11-hour driving limit. This means that other factors must be causing the delays. After all, your drivers know their routes better than anyone, and know how to avoid trouble spots caused by rush hour traffic or inclement weather. Here’s the rub: statistics show that the average national wait time at most facilities is 156 minutes.
The labour shortage is not exclusive to logistics. In the same ATRI survey, truck drivers stated that most warehouse facilities are understaffed. This leads to constant impediments in loading and unloading times, and sometimes preloaded trucks aren’t ready for their scheduled appointment. Often, the warehouse facilities overbook appointments to meet their own revenue goals, but if the staff can’t keep up, it only leads to further setbacks.
Driver detention has a direct impact on driver productivity as well as driver morale. Delays happen in this business. But if it is due to detention, your drivers lose on duty hours as well as revenues. Your driver then may feel that they must rush to make the rest of their appointments, which means they are putting their safety on the line. You also run the risk of angry customers, as late deliveries and missed pickups could mean you lose business to the competition.
So, what does all this mean for your fleet? Your drivers have an appointment at the facility, show up at the right time, and then wait in line for hours. This has a snowball effect on the rest of the day’s routes and could mean that they hit their working time directive limits without finishing the deliveries.
What can you do? You could run second shifts, but for smaller fleets, that could get expensive or may not be viable. Instead of trying to hire more drivers to compensate, which we all know is a challenge in itself given the current driver shortages, let’s explore how you can smooth detention delays with the resources you already have.
What can you do to reduce driver detention and get products from one place to another on-time and without added expense? Here are some simple suggestions.
Aptean’s routing and scheduling software not only helps you plan the most efficient routes instantly, but it can also help you examine different “what if” scenarios so that you can see alternatives to solve problems. For example, you can look at adding in second shifts to alleviate detention delays during peak hours. Or maybe you want to know if adding another truck to the daily schedule will be useful—and more importantly—profitable. Pivotally, the software allows you to evaluate the impact of these scenarios before making any changes, reducing the amount of risk you must take and ensuring you’re able to make the smartest decisions every time.
Another option is to use intelligent software to create a customer-driven delivery schedule allowing your customers to choose delivery times themselves through an online portal, while the system directs them to the slots that work best for you. This allows you to be more efficient, continually optimise routes in real time and offer an improved customer service.
Think about this—if you can reduce driver detention time by even 30 minutes, you could take back your share of the industry’s annual £1 billion a year in losses and put some money back into the drivers’ pockets. It also means that your drivers will have more time at home, because they won’t have to worry about going over working time directive hours, helping you attract and retain qualified truck drivers.
At a time when driver recruitment is difficult, implementing routing and scheduling software can increase driver confidence and satisfaction, because it shows that your management team is committed to rooting out inefficiencies and improving driver welfare. Truck driver detention time is a very real problem, but it’s one that you can address with communication and route optimisation software.
Complete the form to subscribe to to the latest blog articles, customer news and product updates from Paragon. You can unsubscribe or manage your preferences at any time.
For more information about any of our products you can get in touch with one of our experts.