The Impact of Dock Detention Time on Driver Safety & Efficiency

By Bill Rohr
Uploaded: April 15, 2024

The trucking industry has long grappled with the issue of driver detention time – the extra time truck drivers must wait at shipping and receiving facilities due to delays unrelated to cargo loading and unloading.  This persistent problem consistently ranks as one of the top challenges for a large portion of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators.

According to a 2014 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CMV drivers experienced detention time on approximately 1 in every 10 stops, with an average duration of 1.4 hours beyond the standard 2-hour dwell time.  The study also found that medium-sized carriers experienced detention times about twice as often as large carriers, with 19% of their stops resulting in detention compared to 9% for large carriers.

A more recent 2018 study by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General concluded that detention time reduces annual earnings of for-hire CMV drivers in the truckload sector by over $1 billion. The study also projected that a 15-minute increase in average dwell time leads to a 6.2% increase in the average expected crash rate. This suggests that a 1-minute nationwide reduction in average detention time could prevent around 400 crashes per year.

While previous studies provided valuable insights, the FMCSA has acknowledged limitations in their ability to separate normal loading/unloading times from true detention delays. To address this data gap, the FMCSA is now planning a comprehensive new 2024 study that will collect 12 months of detailed data from approximately 80 carriers and 2,500 drivers.

The study aims to assess the frequency and severity of driver detention time across a representative sample of the industry, including long-haul, short-haul, private/company fleets, for-hire fleets, owner-operators, and more. It will also evaluate the effectiveness of existing technology solutions, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs) and transportation management systems, in measuring detention time.

Ultimately, the FMCSA hopes to use the findings to develop strategies that can help reduce detention time, which in turn could lower costs for carriers, increase pay for drivers, and improve their ability to meet delivery schedules without violating hours-of-service regulations. Reducing detention time may also lead to safer driving, as drivers who experience less delay are more likely to reach their destinations within the allotted hours of service.

Some potential solutions the industry is exploring include:

– Implementing advanced scheduling and routing technology to better coordinate pickup and delivery times.

– Establishing mandatory detention pay to incentivize shippers and receivers to improve efficiency.

– Fostering better communication and collaboration between all parties involved in the shipping process.

By addressing the persistent issue of driver detention time, the trucking industry can not only improve safety and driver well-being but also enhance overall supply chain efficiency and competitiveness.







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