5 Ways to Avoid Detention Time

In this blog I’m going to discuss a few ways I’ve attempted to minimize detention time for myself and my drivers throughout my eighteen years in this wonderful and productive industry.

Before we get into the pitfalls of wasted expenses, let’s go over what detention time is.

Detention time is when a driver is either waiting on his or her trailer to be loaded or off-loaded at its specified destination. One thing that doesn’t change in this scenario is the time wasted on drivers not being able to run the road and keep the world moving optimally.

I’m going to summarize the key points and explain in more detail below.

  1. Communicate with the shipper.
  2. Plan accordingly.
  3. Utilize gps and tracking software.
  4. Send 30 min arrival alerts.
  5. Provide the driver’s contact.

According to the U.S Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General:

“Estimates show commercial driver detention increases crash risks and cost”. Furthermore, it is estimated that a 15-minute increase in average dwell time—the total time spent by a truck at a facility—increases the average expected crash rate by 6.2 percent. In addition, we estimated that detention is associated with reductions in annual earnings of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion for for-hire commercial motor vehicle drivers in the truckload sector. For motor carriers in that sector, we estimated that detention reduces net income by $250.6 million to $302.9 million annually.

I don’t know about you, but it’s time we come up with solutions to minimize these losses.


Communicate with the shipper

Throughout my career as a company driver, warehouse manager, and a regional manager for one of the largest private trucking companies in the U.S. I’ve seen communication used as the last resort when it should’ve been the first thing established.

Talk to shippers and receivers to build a relationship and eventually let them know how much you understand the importance of their role and how it would be beneficial to both parties to have you out and rolling.


Plan accordingly

Planning is key to optimal performance in everything we do. That doesn’t change when we’re booking loads, working with brokers or dispatching drivers.

Don’t put too much on your plate and make promises you can’t keep. When it comes to trucking, time is literally money. Make a detailed plan of which direction you’re willing to travel (O/O). If you’re dispatching make sure your contact understands how important time is to you.


Utilize gps and tracking software

Most tracking software will give you route information, driver behavior and assist with strategies to avoid traffic, accidents, road closures and more. With this type of software you can make those appointments on time to avoid delays and detention time.

If you know anything about Florida, or better yet Orlando then you know bumper to bumper traffic anytime of the day. So, I arrived to the DC two minutes late for a delivery, which I take full responsibility for. Nonetheless, the company delayed me three hours because I missed the scheduled appointment time. If I owned GPS and tracking software I would’ve known of delays in advance. It’s worth the investment and saves time.


Send 30 min arrival alerts

So many companies continuously call dispatchers looking for their trucks when it’s so easy to make a phone call to inform them of your near arrival. This is easier with #3, tracking software. If you don’t have that advantage as of yet you could still be professional and make a call to the receiver. They’ll greatly appreciate the heads up and most likely take you first. Remember, they’re human too and we all like to be acknowledged. Everyone’s job is important to the person doing it. That’s the most inexpensive way to show you care. As a driver our job is to meet and see people all day. Make that impression worth it with a simple “heads up” call.


Provide the driver’s contact

Don’t have the shipper playing phone tag with your dispatcher. Even though we’re going to call within thirty minutes of arrival they may have a change of plans on their end and need to check your ETA. It’s reassuring when they can call the driver direct to check the status. It saves time on the back and forth phone calls and emails. We all want to be treated a certain way and Knowledge is power. You save them time and in return they’ll most likely save you time by tending to you first. Make your cell available on all of your paperwork and watch how the relationship changes between you and your clients.


In conclusion, not only does it save time and money, $52.3 million to be exact its easy and cost effective to follow these steps and in turn reduces crashes and ultimately fatalities. We need drivers safe and back home to our families. That’s who we do it for!

I encourage you to comment and add your thoughts.

Thank you for taking your time to read the 5 ways I’ve avoided detention time throughout the years. AmeritonFreight is Knowledge. Power. Connectivity!

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