Driver detention has long plagued the trucking industry, causing headaches and lost wages. When the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate took effect, carriers began to get a better view of just how much detention time was costing them. Now, those same carriers are scrambling for ways to make up for time lost at the loading dock.
FreightWaves Director of Freight Intelligence Zach Strickland calculated the opportunity cost for carriers during periods of surging volume, and the cost of detention became evident.
Last year, the average load paid $2.03/mile at peak, and the average length of haul clocked in at around 550 miles, or one day, of transit. According to Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) data housed inside FreightWaves’ SONAR, the average was 3.73 loads per truck per week in 2018.
That left room for at least 1.27 more loads per week or another 698.5 miles at $2.03/mile, adding up to an extra $1,417 per week, according to Strickland.
Earlier this year, KeepTruckin introduced a tool that could help carriers avoid losing those large chunks of time and money in the first place. The popular fleet management platform enables customers to build geofences around searchable addresses, allowing them to track wait times at specific facilities over time.
Geofencing lets carriers keep an eye on wait times across their entire operation, empowering leaders to identify trends and alter routing guides to gain more efficiency.
“You don’t go to the grocery store during certain hours on certain days because the lines will probably be really long,” KeepTruckin Director of Product Marketing Rahul Chhabria said. “You know not to do that because of your past experience at the grocery store keeps you from repeating behaviors that will make you wait a long time.”
KeepTruckin’s new geofencing tool is intended to help carriers gain that same kind of helpful knowledge about their most frequented loading docks. If carriers are armed with this knowledge, routes can be planned to allow drivers to spend more hours actually driving.
Chhabria said one of the company’s goals is to help increase drivers’ earning potential and the bottom line of all their customers, and one customer said the new tool did just that. That customer reported a 10 to 15 percent improvement in efficiency, measured in hours per load, according to Chhabria.
Excessive detention time costs more than just money, though. It also poses a safety risk.
A 2001 study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that drivers with more loads with longer-than-expected load times were associated with more driver fatigue.
“In this study, drivers reported that about 18 percent of their work time was used for schedule delays due to long wait times,” according to the FMCSA report. “Additionally, the study found a strong positive relationship between the percent of time spent loading and unloading and crash involvement.”
FMCSA continues to look into the correlation between detention time and highway safety. The agency is currently requesting information involving sources of data to better understand driver detention times during the loading and unloading process and the potential safety impact of such delays.
While new research is underway, the 2001 study suggests that decreasing wait times could also drive down crash rates, saving both lives and even more money in the process.