10 Apr 28

While deadheading is obviously expensive, detention time can cost you just as much. Even though the truck might not be moving, it's still costing you money. For one, there’s the lost productivity while your truck is stuck at a dock waiting to get loaded or unloaded. There’s also an opportunity cost. When you are detained for long periods of time, you can miss out on another load elsewhere.

In the past, we’ve talked about how to define a detention fee in your rules of service. Often the trick is to figure out how much to charge so you can strike a balance between getting compensated for your time and keeping your customers happy. 

Common Practices

Last year, Transplace performed a benchmarking study of the most common accessorial charges for shippers. Here are the three most common practices: 

  • Most shippers expected two hours of free detention time for the power unit. 
  • A majority of carriers charged for every 15 minute beyond that grace period for the power unit, ranging anywhere from $25 to $90 per hour. If it's just the trailer that's detained, the detention fee is per day.
  • The shippers in the study usually allowed for a $600 maximum in detention fees.  


Find Creative Ways to Collect

If you’re hauling for a shipper that has a record of detaining your trucks, it might be easier to charge a higher rate per mile rather than charging them a detention fee as an accessorial. 

Another approach is to offer a refund for a quick turnaround at the docks. Let’s say you charge a per-day fee for your truck on top of the linehaul rate. Agree to leave the per-day fee off the invoice if your truck is back on the road in two hours or less.

Driver Compensation

The detention fee doesn’t just offset your opportunity and equipment costs, though. If your driver is paid by the mile, detention time means losing hours that  would otherwise produce income. If you can’t find a way to compensate the driver for that time, you could end up looking for a new driver. 

Comments (10) -

If you are hauling for a good shipper, detention is no problem, it is when you have to book a load from a broker, getting detention can be iffy.


Carol Morgan
Carol Morgan

Booking though a broker is iffy if they dont have the relationship with the customer. Larger brokers snuff alot of stuff.  A good solid broker will be up front about any delays on unloading and be upfront about what is allowed.  Good communication is the key not whether it is a broker or customer.


Lianne Reizer
Lianne Reizer

Our issues in being compensated for detention typically lie with the brokers, not our shipper customers.  We now ask each broker up front not only what their detention policy is, but also the amount they are willing to pay.  These days $25 per hour some brokers will pay is simply a deal breaker.  Even if we really need the load, we will move onto something else rather than risk losing money.


Well I know there are brokers that try and trick you saying once you send in your paper work we can talk about wait time. Only to turn around and say they were not able to get it. I had a situation last week were I dead headed my truck to get a load for UV only to have the broker say the load was canceled and there would be no truck order not used because she didn't give us the address. Even though I called and called there was no answer phone issues they said but what do you do?


My driver is been waiting more than two hour , we had to cancel another load because we still waiting and maybe we have to wait up to 5 hours more , how much we have to charge for detention time and how?


Post the rate on the side of your truck. Like a taxi cab..first 2 hrs free.. Then $25.00 an hr after that.. And make up a paper to hand to shipper...when u Check in. Time in and out ..its legal..i Checked..  tql got me for 15hrs there screw up. Appt not made..so I kept on them all week $300.00   we settled at $200.00.

Drivers don't get screwed over..
I don't work for free...20yrs otr


The basic Owner-Operator should change a minimumm
of $135.00 dollars per hour for each hour detained
To make up for the time and/or mileage lost waiting
For trailer to be unloaded


$135 bucks an hour?! lol are you crazy? since when is a truck driver charging doctor money? that's insane


Getting detained generally costs the driver way more than 135 bucks an hour.


no way. I want to know what shippers and receivers are paying trucks $135/hr for detention. that's asinine! a lot of times trucks don't even miss their reload... so I just paid this guy 400 bucks because he had to wait for 3 hours extra? give me a break


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