Idle hands may be the devil’s workshop, but idle trucks don’t work for anybody.

Driver detention is the downtime in hauling that befalls truckers at pickup or delivery locations. Everyone in the industry dreads delays, especially expensive ones, and detention costs do enormous harm to the bottom line.

In fact, driver detention times have become such a pressing issue that even U.S. lawmakers are urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to address the matter.

The $494 billion INVEST in America Act, a five-year reauthorization of surface transportation programs introduced last month by Democrats on the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), through FMCSA, to begin collecting data from drivers and carriers on delays experienced during loading and unloading at shipper and receiver facilities. Findings would then be published on the DOT website, as reported earlier by FreightWaves.

If passed, an additional rulemaking would be required no later than a year after the INVEST Act becomes law “to establish limits on the amount of time that an operator of a commercial motor vehicle may be reasonably detained by a shipper or receiver before the loading or unloading [of] the vehicle if the operator is not compensated for such time detained,” the bill reads.

Findings from a recent Spireon white paper survey, conducted in conjunction with FreightWaves, found that about 40% of carriers reported losing more than $500 per trailer per week in detention costs. Even for a smaller carrier with just 15 trailers, that level of detention costs could lead to over $390,000 in lost revenue over the course of a year.

Detention time spent at shipping and receiving facilities is draining the industry dry in terms of time and money.

The DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that for-hire truck drivers lose between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion a year to time spent in detention, reducing their annual earnings by $1,281 to $1,534 per year, according to findings from an Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation (OOIDA) survey. As for motor carriers, losses were reported at approximately $250.6 million to $302.9 million in net income every year, contributing to a total net loss of $1.35 billion to $1.6 billion overall for the trucking industry.

Worse still, carriers and shippers are often under the impression that the waiting game is normal.

It doesn’t have to be.

Time is money; as shippers’ delivery expectations grow even larger, carriers can’t afford lengthy downtime, let alone continue to hemorrhage revenue. But the industry is achieving savings in a new way through telematics solutions leader Spireon, which is bringing smart trailer technology to the forefront.

Spireon’s comprehensive intelligence platform, FleetLocate, is an all-encompassing asset management tool that utilizes GPS location information and driver analytics, keeping a set of eyes on your fleet at all times. 

By improving detention billing and reducing wasted driver time, Spireon looks to drastically reduce choke points that far too often affect drivers at loading docks. 

According to the OIG, a 15-minute increase in the average dwell time increases the average expected crash rate by 6.2%, contributing an additional 6,509 crashes per year. With that in mind, Spireon’s ability to reduce dwell time may inadvertently reduce truck accidents in the process.

Spireon takes the guesswork out of trailer pools, too, by leveraging real-time visibility to redirect underutilized trailers to more profitable lanes. Carriers can expect optimization to improve their return on investment and profitability.

Spireon’s IntelliScan and Intelligent Trailer Management (ITM) advanced technologies utilize smart sensors for doors, temperature probing, and liftgate battery and cargo monitoring, delivering 99.9% detection accuracy. 

“By incorporating Spireon’s FleetLocate into our own API tool, our team has greater visibility of freight in the network,” Dan Deppeler, Vice President of Maintenance from for-hire truckload carrier, Paper Transport said, adding that they were pleased to find that trailer tracking could be integrated into the tool set that the carrier’s team was already using. “We use par levels from Spireon to determine exactly how many trailers are needed at a specific location. FleetLocate also allows us to present trailer data to our own shipping customers for awareness and transparency.”

Operations growth typically results in more oversight, but carrier asset managers can rest easy knowing that focus can remain primarily on expansion without the added stress of driver detention and trailer delays undercutting the bottom line.

Note: The political commentary presented in this article does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Spireon. The company stands neutral on matters of current legislation, and intends only to include such dialogue for informational purposes.

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