Detention time creates inefficiencies and makes it more difficult for fleet managers to stay efficient and optimize operations. Because wait times mean low productivity and no compensation, it may also affect drivers’ morale, motivation, and happiness.

Waiting around is tough, especially if it’s a part of your job. Detention time is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges commercial drivers face. A survey by DAT Solutions revealed that only 3 percent of truckers receive detention pay for 90 percent of their claims.

According to data analyzed by FreightWaves, truckers were detained on average for 2.5 hours per job in 2018. In California, the average detention time was as high as 5.5 hours.

The negative impact of detention time on safety

A detention period that lasts more than two hours can have a significant impact on safety and how drivers drive. According to the Motive ELD data we analyzed, drivers drive 3.5 mph faster after a detention period of 2+ hours.

Because of the 14-hour limit and lost earnings, as many as 81 percent of drivers feel the pressure of making to their next stop in time.

Speeding may lead to increased risk on the road and a higher probability of critical safety events, such as hard braking and hard cornering.

How to minimize the possibility of driver detention

Detention is an industry-wide problem and requires a holistic approach from all industry stakeholders. There are, however, a few things you can do to minimize detention time.

  • Communicate with shippers and receivers to ensure everything is scheduled properly.
  • Space out appointments, so you have ample time to unload the truck.
  • Send timely alerts to shippers and receivers, so they are up-to-date with your location.
  • Use modern tech and fleet management solutions to keep shippers, customers, and receivers informed every step of the way. More accurate ETAs minimize the possibility of being detained.
  • Monitor detention time and identify shippers and receivers that detain drivers for long periods. This can help you identify people that you should avoid.
  • Make shippers and receivers accountable for extended detention periods to minimize operational losses. Accountability may also have a positive impact on how long shippers/receivers usually detain drivers.

Additionally, come up with a driver-compensation plan to make sure that drivers are satisfied and happy. This will also discourage speeding after extended detention periods.

Which cities are the worst offenders?

Here are 24 U.S. cities that topped the list for the worst average detention times.

  1. Detroit Michigan — 2.95 hours
  2. Eau Claire, Wisconsin — 2.96 hours
  3. Hutchinson, Kansas — 2.96 hours
  4. St. Cloud, Minnesota — 2.98 hours
  5. McAllen, Texas — 2.98 hours
  6. Spokane, Washington — 3 hours
  7. Chattanooga, Tennessee — 3.01 hours
  8. Bowling Green, Kentucky — 3.01 hours
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina — 3.1 hours
  10. Wilmington, North Carolina — 3.1 hours
  11. Lakeland, Florida — 3.23 hours
  12. Knoxville, Tennessee — 3.23 hours
  13. Bloomington, Illinois — 3.28 hours
  14. Fayetteville, Arkansas — 3.47 hours
  15. Laredo, Texas — 3.53 hours
  16. Fort Wayne, Indiana — 3.71 hours
  17. Little Rock, Arkansas — 3.83 hours
  18. Duluth, Minnesota — 3.85 hours
  19. Shreveport, Louisiana — 3.95 hours
  20. El Paso, Texas — 4.21 hours
  21. South Bend, Indiana — 4.45 hours
  22. Rochester, New York — 4.65 hours
  23. Erie Pennsylvania — 5.38 hours
  24. Fresno, California — 5.51 hours

Utilize the power of data

Although an ELD/fleet management solution may not eliminate driver detention, it can provide valuable insights that you’d need to optimize operations.

With an easy-to-use fleet management platform, you can spot drivers with upcoming Hours-of-Service violations, identify where and for how long a driver is detained, and keep an eye on any critical safety events that may follow a detention period.

For example, the Motive fleet management platform flags risky driving behavior, such as excessive acceleration, hard cornering, and hard braking. You can easily identify drivers with the highest number of critical safety events and initiate driver coaching programs.

With the Motive Smart Dashcam, fleet and safety managers can recall any video footage from the previous 35 hours of driving time. These videos provide valuable context for improving driver training programs and increasing safety.

While you cannot eliminate driver detention on your own, you can minimize its frequency and negative impact with the right tools and ensure that your drivers remain safe.

Learn more about how Motive can help. You can also call (844) 257-6396 or email