According to a report by J.B. Hunt, recent adjustments in the hours of service of truck drivers have affected both carriers and vehicle operators, and may lead to additional time spent waiting for trucks to be loaded and unloaded. This in turn begs the question: Should drivers get paid for detention time?
Pros of Mandatory Pay for Detention Time
The upside to drivers getting mandatory pay for DT:
Increases efficiency: Aside from the obvious point that truck drivers will get paid for the work they do rather than offering X amount of hours a week for free, paid DT may just push shippers and receivers to be more efficient.
Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new drive-time regulations were implemented in July 2013, out of the 11 hours per day of available driving time, an average of 6.5 hours are actually spent behind the wheel, says J.B. Hunt. The other 4.5 hours are used on empty drive time, inflexible appointments (more waiting around), and time spent at the shipper or receiver.
Loss of minutes or even hours over the course of many loads can have a very significant impact on capacity, says J.B. Hunt. Carriers won’t like that. However, according to an article from Ask The Trucker, “Once shippers are hit in their pockets by carriers, you will see how much more quickly appointments are kept.”
Increases number of hires: The truck driver shortage is worsening , but mandatory detention pay could help solve part of the problem. In a recent poll conducted by Overdrive, there were two benchmarks for appropriate DT rates: total revenue per mile, and profit or net income per mile plus fixed cost per mile. An example mentioned in the article would be something like $64 per hour, which could help encourage new hires.
Cons of Mandatory Pay for Detention Time
The downside to drivers getting mandatory pay for DT:
Someone has to pay: Shippers and receivers may be responsible for making truck drivers wait around for hours on end, but it’s up to the carriers to hold them accountable for DT expenses — an incentive that will help them keep their appointments. Ultimately, however, someone other than the drivers will have to reach into their pockets and fork up the money.
Owner-operators chance losing business: Ask The Trucker says that, although many owner-operators do not calculate the extra “waiting” time when negotiating with shippers (an attempt to satisfy their customers), some do ask for DT payment but do not get it. They are then left with the choice of either taking the load anyway or losing the client to someone else (and they will).
A lack of mandatory detention pay affects both carriers and truck drivers, although the impact on vehicle operators is felt more immediately. With tighter hours of operation, carriers need to improve driver efficiency, which in turn increases capacity. To do that, they must stop using drivers as a negotiation tool and start paying the person behind the wheel for all hours of service — including time spent waiting at the shipper and receiver.