Detention time is when a truck is detained at a shipper's or customer's loading dock beyond a reasonable period of time. Generally in the industry, 2 hours are needed for loading or unloading a truck. Unfortunately many Shippers and Receivers generally do not care how long a driver has to sit without pay even though the time at the dock goes against the drivers hours of service (HOS). The shippers/receivers who pay detention are generally pretty efficient at getting a truck going. It is those companies who refuse to pay detention time who take their sweet time loading or unloading a truck. Some companies will hold up a truck for the entire day before loading or unloading, sometimes longer. And remember that a driver is legally required to log this time as "On Duty Not Driving". Work without PAY. And it counts against his 70 week.
Other freight industries get and receive detention or demurrage pay. For instance the railroads after dropping a railcar at your site give you 2 days to work the load after that you pay demurrage for each day. Remember that a railcar does not have a driver waiting for it.
Ship Companies also charge demurrage after a negotiated time for loading or unloading. Their demurrage costs can be in the millions of dollars.
So what happened to detention pay in trucking? Congress refuses to talk about it because like in the case of Fuel Surcharges, they say it is tantamount to "Regulation". This is such hipocrisy on their part when they have REGULATED everything else in the trucking industry. If you think about it, the "Trucking Industry" is the most regulated "de-regulated" industry in America.
In my opinion, our elected officials do not want to upset the big industries that are contributing to their election campaigns by forcing them to pay what is fair to the Owner-Operators and Truck Drivers. If detention pay were mandatory the worst offending shippers/receivers would have to get their act together and run an efficient loading/unloading operation. More often than not the shippers and/or receivers schedule all incoming trucks to arrive at the same time, then it's first come first serve at the dock. To top it off at the receiving end a driver must pay for a lumper to unload his truck. The unloading can be done by the driver, but then he is left standing by his load for hours waiting for the receiver to count it and sign his bills. This is how many receiving companies handle it if you don't pay for them to unload their own freight. From my experience however this rule applies; "The more you are charged for a lumper, the longer it takes". Doesn't make sense but if you ask a trucker, he will agree.