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

Also known as driver detention, trucking detention occurs when you or 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. Contact them well in advance to make sure you’re 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 your truck 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 you — and if you or your drivers are responsible for the delay, you won’t be eligible for detention pay. If you do plan on arriving early, give the shipper or receiver a call to make sure they’ll be able to assist you.

What to do when trucking detention occurs 

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

Drivers 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.

SmartHop was created to support you and your drivers in navigating all types of issues on the road, including trucking detention. By negotiating with brokers on your behalf and through our Stress-Free Guarantee, we can help you get what you deserve. Through this guarantee, we’ll front you the money you need when a situation arises to later be paid back by your broker or on your next billing cycle with no hidden fees or strings attached.

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