Common problems truck drivers face and how to navigate them

March 21, 2023

Occasionally, truckers run into problems while delivering a load that are unpreventable and unpredictable. Although these situations are outside of your control, they can unfortunately still be costly. Worst of all, these incidents have the potential to disturb your operations and cause a domino effect of setbacks.

It is better to prepare for the possibility that you or your drivers will face issues on the road so that you understand how to navigate these challenges in the most timely and cost-effective way. Keep reading to learn more about truckers’ most common problems and how to manage these issues.

Truck Driver Issue #1: Lumper Fees

Lumper fees are charges that happen when the delivery site uses its workers to help you load or unload your trailer. You’ll usually encounter lumper fees at high-volume distribution centers, like food warehousing companies and grocery distributors. Many of these times, you or your driver cannot efficiently load or unload these items.

Loading or unloading a shipment is sometimes more than just removing it from your truck. Usually, there are specific ways in which the items need to be broken down onto pallets or even verified against a packing slip. Lumpers are more familiar with the product and can unload freight more efficiently.

Lumper fees typically range from $50 to several hundred depending on the availability of the service, the time it will take to complete the job, and the type of work needing to be done. One way to deal with lumper fees is to negotiate the rate. Make sure you know how long the lumper will take to unload your freight. Also, make sure that the lumper understands the requirements to break down the shipment and that the receiver is satisfied with how the load is broken down.

The good news is that lumper fees can be reimbursed by the shipper or freight broker, although receiving that money back may be a process. A factoring company can help you make sure you receive your payments on time.

Truck Driver Issue #2: TONU

TONU stands for truck order not used. This occurs when the trucker arrives to pick up a load, but the freight is not available. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including if the shipper has ordered the wrong equipment, the load was canceled, or the load is not ready.

TONU can be especially frustrating because it happens at the last minute. You or your driver could have made it to the pickup location or driven several miles before learning that the order was canceled. TONU can take up half of the day, and this lost time and resources may be hard to recoup.

Make sure you draft clear policies regarding TONU and communicate often with shippers to avoid late cancellations. These policies will help you avoid conflicts on payment, rates, timelines, and other conditions. Ensure that all stakeholders are aware of these policies and on the same page.

TONU fees are one thing you may want to consider including in your policies. These are fees that the shipper pays when an order is canceled. TONU fees usually range from $150 to $300 depending on the type of truck ordered. While these fees can cover some of the costs, there is often a wait to receive the payment from the shipper.

Truck Driver Issue #3: Layovers

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A layover happens when you or your driver is delayed between shipments and typically lasts one or more days. Why does this happen? Common causes for layovers include that the receiver is short-staffed, behind schedule, or has broken equipment. Moving freight is a multi-step process that involves many players and timely scheduling. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much room for errors or delays, which happen often and can lead to additional problems and lost revenue.

Communicating early and often to all parties involved can help drivers avoid a layover. Make sure to have a written agreement before accepting loads that make the shipper or receiver responsible for costs accrued during a layover. Having an agreement in place will lessen the financial impact a layover can have on your business.

Truck Driver Issue #4: Detention

Detention occurs when a driver is at the pick-up or delivery site longer than the grace period on the Bill Of Lading (BOL). The BOL is usually a 2-hour window to load or unload the truck — anything outside of this is considered detention.

Truckers in the United States lose $1.1 billion dollars annually due to detention. Similar to other common issues that drivers face on the road, detention can be avoided through effective communication with shippers and receivers. Contact your shipper or broker ahead of time, and ensure you’re on the same page regarding pickup or delivery times. Even a quick five-minute check-in can save you detention time or unexpected waiting.

When detention does happen, make sure that the shipper or receiver is held accountable for the delay. Detention pay can help you recover some of your losses. Shippers and receivers have different detention pay policies, so make sure that you understand those policies before booking a load. Make sure you gather documentation like emails or contracts proving that the delay wasn’t your fault.

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