Detention in trucking: How to avoid it & what to do when it happens

March 21, 2023

Truck detention is something that most drivers will experience at one point or another. With every trip, the driver is expected to either load or unload their truck within a set period of time. But sometimes, this may be held up for longer than what was previously agreed upon for reasons beyond the driver’s control. When this happens, you’re dealing with detention time.

To minimize the stress involved with trucking detentions and ensure that you are getting paid in these situations, it’s important to know how to avoid trucking detention and what to do when it happens.

What is detention in trucking?

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Also known as driver detention, trucking detention occurs when one of your drivers experiences a delay at either the pick-up or delivery destination that exceeds the agreed-upon grace period on the Bill of Lading (BOL). This differs from a layover because detention occurs during the shipment, while a layover occurs in between shipments.

While an hour or two may not seem like a major delay, wasted time can quickly add up and reduce your take home profits.

How can you avoid detention in trucking?

One of the more obvious ways to avoid trucking detention is by thoroughly communicating with shippers and/or receivers about your upcoming trips. Encourage your driver or dispatcher to contact them well in advance to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to loading and unloading times. A quick check-in can clear up any confusion and avoid having to unexpectedly wait.

You’ll also want to make sure that the driver is arriving precisely at the agreed-upon time. Showing up early might seem like a good way to get ahead of schedule, but oftentimes shippers and receivers won’t be ready to accommodate them — and if your driver is responsible for the delay, you won’t be eligible for detention pay. If your driver plans on arriving early, give the shipper or receiver a call to make sure they’ll be able to assist.

What to do when trucking detention occurs

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When detention occurs, your first step should be to ensure the shipper or receiver is held accountable for the delay and asked to cover the detention pay. Shippers and brokers have different detention pay policies with grace periods and caps that may vary, so make sure that you understand these policies prior to booking the load.

It’s also a good idea to gather as much documentation as possible to show that the delay wasn’t your fault. This can include email exchanges, contracts, and any other communications that discuss the agreed-upon time. Additionally, the majority of brokers and shippers require timestamps signed off by a facility employee before detention pay can be initiated.

SmartHop is here to help you navigate trucking detention

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Truckers lose an estimated $1.1 billion every year due solely to detention, but the process of requesting and receiving detention pay can be time-consuming when you’re on your own. That’s when working with a trusted partner like SmartHop can help minimize the stress on your end and leave the busy work to others.

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