My Wait Time or Detention Time on the Job as a Trucker

If you’ve been a trucker for a while, you know that wait time or detention time is inevitable.

Your wait time is just as valuable as your drive time. You can't replace it!It happens at shippers, receivers and truck repair shops.

It happens to long-haul, regional and even local truck drivers.

Some of the waiting comes from factors beyond your control, such as from weather, heavy traffic, construction zones, etc.

But it’s one thing to have to battle factors beyond your control and another thing altogether to have to wait at a shipper or receiver for hours and hours to get loaded or unloaded when you have an appointment and arrive on time.

Why are we concerned about this and also providing a platform for professional truck drivers to do something about it?

Your wait time is just as valuable as your drive time. You can’t replace it!

Our website is designed to help truckers save money;
you can’t save money if you can’t earn it;
if you’re paid by the mile, you can’t earn money if you’re sitting still.

The Impact of Wait Time on Wages

How bad is the problem really?

A February 2011 article in Land Line Magazine stated:(1)

… A 2009 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study showed that wasted time at the docks costs the trucking industry $3 billion and the public another $6.5 billion each year.

The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, began investigation about a year ago into detention time issues and interviewing drivers and industry stakeholders. [U.S. Rep. Peter] DeFazio [D-OR] made the GAO report, which he requested, public in conjunction with the filing of the bill.

“About 65 percent of drivers reported lost revenue as a result of detention time from either missing an opportunity to secure another load or paying late fees to the shipper,” GAO officials stated in the report.

One driver wrote in February 2005,

… I have personally sat for 10 to 12 hours numerous times waiting to get loaded or unloaded. … I think a two-hour limit is a reasonable amount of time to do this. …(2)


For the sake of getting a handle on the problem of “lost wages” (not counting loss of the next load or late fees), let’s calculate some hypothetical situations.

A September 2011 article entitled “Driven Mad: Trucking Industry Collapsing Under Regulation: Foolish laws are hampering America’s lifeblood industry, and making drivers more tired to boot” states:

… From the AJC dispatch:

The Department of Transportation’s Hours of Service regulation, written to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, is one example. The rule says CMV drivers may only work 14 hours a day – 11 actually driving – and the driver must keep a logbook of the total hours spent driving and resting. It sounds sensible, but the regulation doesn’t account for the reality of the road.

You got drivers going into these places to load, and sat eight to ten hours. That’s on the clock,” said [Western HiWays Trucking Safety Director Doug] Grove. “If they sit there eight hours, they can only drive three hours. If we didn’t get our mileage in, it don’t matter. Once your 14 hours are up, it’s up.”

Figure of man looking at his watch.A February 07, 2018, article stated:

In one of the first reports of its kind, the U.S. DOT has concluded that time spent detained at shipper or receiver facilities cuts truck driver pay by between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion annually, in addition to crimping industry safety. An extra 15 minutes spent detained beyond the standard two-hour window causes industry crash risk to climb 6.2 percent, the DOT has estimated. That’s an average of about 6,500 additional crashes annually, the report notes.

Drivers see an average annual pay loss of between $1,281 and $1,534, the report concludes, and carrier income is cut by between $250 million and $302 million annually due to detention time, the DOT says.

Yes, your Hours of Service may be done, but we’re giving you the means by which to do something about it.

You see, we can empathize…

Our Experience With Wait Time

We wrote about one of Mike’s experiences (Vicki riding with him) in being delayed at a receiver for over 26 hours and being compensated for only part of his time.

That is the only time that that kind of a lengthy wait time ever happened to us. (Thank goodness!)

By way of background, Mike’s at-that-time trucking company had a wait time policy.

It used to be that the first four hours of waiting was “on the driver.”

Then the company made a good move and narrowed the wait time window to two hours before detention pay kicked in (assuming the driver arrived by the appointment time).

By “detention pay” or “wait time pay,” we mean once the wait time window closes a certain amount of money is paid to the driver every hour until the product is either loaded onto or unloaded from the trailer the driver is pulling, as the case requires.

We’re sure that each trucking company has its own customized wait time policy.

Frankly, we think that a driver should be paid for every minute that he or she is forced to wait to be loaded or unloaded, and that that should be written into the shipping contract.

Your Experience

A man looking at a clock, as if for quitting time or elapsed time.While drivers may be giving feedback to their companies about their wait time — how long they are being detained at facilities in the course of their work — sometimes it seems that that feedback is falling on deaf ears.

One of the only good things to come from the Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) mandate was that a driver whose truck had an ELD had all of his/her wait time totally documented.

Still, nothing ever changes if no one “on the inside” is going to bat for you.

Sometimes even the best methods of persuasion don’t make so much as a dent in the problem.

We explained previously that some truckers are being exploited by unscrupulous trucking companies.

Well, another aspect of that exploitation is expecting drivers to just “take it” without appropriate compensation when it comes to wait time.

Does that describe you and your situation?

When it comes to fixing this problem once you’ve tried doing so through your trucking company, there are at least a couple of ideas:

  1. Federal legislation: A bill was introduced in Congress to mandate a change regarding truckers’ wait time. (We personally disagree with a federal mandate as we believe that trucking companies ought to be working out these problems with shippers and receivers on their own.)(3)
  2. Document your experience: Reveal for all the world to see just what you’ve been through, by providing details on who kept you sitting for how long and what was done about it. That’s what we’re giving you the opportunity to do on this page. (By the way, the experience you document can be positive or negative.)

The Power of Documentation

A man writing down information in a permanent book.Perhaps you’re aware of the power of documentation and creating a “paper trail.”

Doctors do it, attorneys do it, even trucking companies do it.

Evidence matters.

Records must be kept on some things.

Records should be kept on other things.

Manufacturers of quality products issue warranties; consumers are encouraged to retain their receipts and warranty info, should they need it at a later time to replace or repair an item.

We personally retain documents on certain things that we pay for with time or money, especially large ticket items.

It’s Time to Speak Up

Before and after clock settings showing elapsed wait time.We believe that it is time for professional truck drivers to speak up and be heard regarding how much wait time they are being required to spend waiting on loads to be loaded or unloaded.

Until the powers that be truly understand the gravity of the problem, they may not be willing to do anything about it. Enter the power of the Internet and digital documentation.

Below, we are providing the means by which you as a professional truck driver may document your wait time or detention time.


A man waiting.Realize up front that if you as a professional truck driver utilize this technology, you may be putting your job on the line.

The risk is totally yours.

In some locations, drivers may be released from employment for whatever reason a trucking company determines, and there’s not much that can be done about it.

Be aware that reporting wait time below may or may not be covered under protections for “whistleblowers.”

Still, don’t you deserve to be heard?

The Guidelines We Require

  1. By using the form below, you are attesting to these facts:
    • that you have personally experienced the wait time described,
    • that all information you submit is true and correct,
    • that you have notified your company and the pertinent customer of your wait time details, and
    • that you understand that once published through this page your submission cannot be edited.
  2. You will submit all of the “documentation points” we have outlined in the form below. Instructions are given on how to do this. If a particular customer’s info is not necessary — such as if you have a long wait time at the shipper but not the receiver — you may enter “N/A” for “Not Applicable” on the lines pertaining to the receiver.
  3. Submitting proof of your wait time such as by submitting a photograph of the QualComm unit displaying a dispatch (showing your pick-up date and time) or a bill of lading with date(s) and time(s) is strongly encouraged.
  4. A correct email address must be entered when the form is submitted so that, if necessary, we can contact you afterwards.

What We Will Do

  1. On other pages of our site, visitors may make comments about submissions. This page will be different. Once a driver makes a submission through this page, we will not publish any comments because we feel that it would be inappropriate to do so.
  2. In the event that a customer wants to “make things right” with a driver who experienced an excessively long wait time at their facility and documented it on this page using his/her full name, we will act as the mediator between driver and customer (since it’s our site). We promise that we will never share a driver’s email address.
  3. If you have an update to a wait time documentation published on this page (preferably a good outcome), you may contact us to make us aware of it. (We hope there are lots of these.)

Drivers Who Chose to “Document My Wait Time”

Return from My Wait Time or Detention Time on the Job as a Trucker to our Employee Benefits page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.


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