Detention issue getting worse, ATRI study finds

September 4, 2019

Mark Schremmer


Problems with detention time have worsened, according to a recent study released by the American Transportation Institute.

ATRI’s analysis, which is based on 1,900 truck driver and motor carrier surveys conducted in 2014 and 2018, found that across the four-year period, detention frequency and length has increased. According to ATRI, the increase has led to negative effects on driver productivity, regulatory compliance and compensation.

Key findings include:

  • Drivers reported a 27.4% increase in delays of six hours or more.
  • Female drivers were 83.3% more likely than men to be delayed six hours or more.
  • There was a nearly 40% increase in drivers who reported that the majority of their pickups and deliveries were delayed over the past year because of customer actions.
  • The average excessive detention fee per hour charged by fleets was $63.71, slightly less than the average per-hour operating cost of $66.65 found in ATRI’s Operational Costs of Trucking.
  • The negative effects of detention of carrier revenue and driver compensation may be greater among smaller fleets, with 20% reporting that they do not charge for excessive detention in order to stay competitive with larger fleets.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded at the ATRI website.

In June, FMCSA published a request for information regarding detention time.

“A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General found that better data are needed to fully understand the issues associated with driver detention,” the FMCSA notice stated.

In 2018, DOT’s Office of Inspector General reported that detention time increased crash risks and costs but that the current data limited further analysis. The report recommended that FMCSA collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze “reliable, accurate, and representative data on the frequency and severity of driver detention.”

According to OIG’s report, a 15-minute increase in time a truck spent at a facility increased the average expected crash rate by 6.2%. Detention time costs for-hire truck drivers between $1.1 and $1.3 billion each year, according to the report.

Land Line’s cover story for the August/September 2019 titled “A monstrous problem” details truck driver’s problems with detention time.

A recent survey from the OOIDA Foundation found that more than 30% of OOIDA members spend 11 to 20 hours per week in detention, while 31% stated they lose three to four loads per month because of detention. In some cases, this is costing drivers more than $6,000 per month.

To submit comments on FMCSA’s request for information, you can enter Docket Number FMCSA-2019-0054 at the website or mail Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation; Room W12-140; 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE; Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.