A Few Tips to Help Eliminate Driver Detention Time

Driver Detention Time

According to the Journal of Commerce, 2021 saw a twofold increase in detention fees. While the stats in that report are specific to oceanic shipping, similar trends are being realized with regards to trucking. Needless to say, these extra costs are concerning shippers across all industries, and many companies are looking for ways to avoid or mitigate driver detention time fees.

In this article, we will review five tips to help you avoid inbound freight detention time.


A Brief Overview of Detention Time

Driver detention time is any amount of time beyond the typical 2-hour window that is allotted as free time for drivers to pick up or unload goods from their trucks. Drivers are given those 2 hours to complete loading or unloading. This helps to keep the flow of inbound/outbound traffic flowing to or from the warehouse docks in a timely fashion. Any extra time that it takes drivers to get in and out beyond that 2-hour window, they are typically charged for via a driver detention fee.

While the 2-hour window of free time is fairly standard, detention rates can vary from one warehouse to the next, so ensuring that you know exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay in detention fees can be rather important information to have upfront.


Five Tips for Decreasing The Risk of Detention Time


Trucker-Selected Appointment Times

Who better to schedule the delivery than the drivers themselves?

By empowering truckers to set their appointment times, you can effectively overcome the hurdle of uncertainty and excessive wait times as the warehouse can keep its docks moving. This will certainly require a significant amount of collaboration between all parties involved with the delivery, but leveraging the latest technology can bridge the gap and make it a somewhat seamless process.

Drivers are some of the best sources of real-time data pertaining to the loads they carry. Therefore, creating a system that allows them to have more control over the schedule can significantly assist with backups and increased detention time at busy warehouse docks.


Extended Operational Hours

It seems fairly obvious on paper, but having a narrow delivery window in this time of extreme demand is undoubtedly going to lead to delays. By even just slightly extending your available hours, you can effectively space out deliveries. This puts less stress on staff, drivers, and ultimately can lead to a more efficient delivery system.

It seems strange to say that increasing operational hours will lead to better efficiency. But with the current limitations and issues we are facing, this may be a necessary step to reduce the time it takes to dock and load or unload a truck. 


Planning Ahead for Detention Time

Maintaining a schedule that is organized down to the most minute details can afford you the capability of managing deliveries with greater efficiency.

Although having a very detailed, rigid schedule can be helpful, companies also need to “roll with the punches” so to speak when deliveries are late, early, or some other unexpected issue arises. Being able to quickly respond to these changes are hallmarks of a thriving business and of an effective planning strategy. Something as simple as switching the dock or door that was planned for a certain delivery in order to respond to an unanticipated delay can keep business humming along.

Flexibility is key to effective planning.


Increase Staff, If Possible

In some areas of the country, there simply may not be enough workers available to increase your staff. The labor shortage, which has made headlines over the past year, has persisted. As a result, many companies across various industries have found it difficult to hire workers.

With an aging workforce and other concerns very much affecting the current availability of workers, there’s no doubt that companies may need to find other creative solutions beyond increasing staff. However, if your business is able to do so, having more workers assisting with the loading and unloading processes can positively impact detention time.

Whether you are able to increase your staff size or not, you’ll still want to set reasonable, data-driven expectations on how quickly deliveries can be managed. Understanding your staff’s needs and abilities will go a long way in ensuring that you effectively plan your shipments.


Improve Visibility and Communication

As with all components of the shipping and supply chain industries, improving visibility is one of the best ways to overcome almost any hurdle. For example, using a Transportation Management System (TMS) can greatly improve communication across all parties involved with a delivery. 

A TMS can make it easy for carriers and shippers to communicate needs and will keep everyone on the same page with regard to shipments, protocols, and detention times. These systems enable you to stay one step ahead of any potential threats to timely delivery.



Detention time and the subsequent detention fees that go along with them can be largely taxing to smaller businesses. We are working through a time where we have unprecedented demand, a labor shortage, and complicated supply chain issues that all have to be considered with regard to deliveries.

Any steps you can take to decrease your risk of driver detention time fees will be beneficial for your profitability and your business as a whole.