Financial Penalty for
Late Arrival by Trucker?
In her May 19, 2013 article, Wendy Parker wrote about
financial penalty -- a fine -- that truckers who arrive late at a
Safeway warehouse in Tempe would be required to pay.
The line translated from the in-cab message read:
drivers will be fined $500."
have never heard of professional truck drivers having
to pay money out of
their own pockets for a late arrival or missed
appointment to a shipper or receiver. (If you as a professional truck
driver have paid this, please contact
But the point is that the sentence was sent out in the
dispatch that Wendy's husband George accepted.
What's going on here?
We're going to address some key issues and then make a
prediction regarding the trucking industry on this page.
Huge Problem in
Trucking Industry Identified
Wendy correctly identified a huge problem in the
- Shippers/receivers who schedule more
trucks at a certain appointment time than there are docks to
accommodate loading/unloading; and/or
- Making drivers wait (sometimes
exorbitantly long periods of time) for freight to be loaded onto or
unloaded from their trucks.
Making truckers wait because the shipper/receiver has
failed to stagger truck arrivals appropriately bites into truckers'
drive time (thus effectively lowering their potential incomes).
However, Wendy also zeroed in on the inherent unfairness
of shippers/receivers penalizing
truckers for being late for
appointments when the shippers/receivers
aren't even ready to deal with
them when they are on
This mentality shows lack of respect for
- the trucker,
- the utilization of the
- the trucking company hauling
Not only that, but issuing such a fine against late
truckers when the facilities aren't ready to handle those who are on
time sounds to us like sheer unadulterated corporate greed.
When a Trucker Misses
If a trucker has missed an appointment, it is reasonable
that he/she gets "worked in" later on in the day. Mike had that happen
once because of heavy traffic congestion in the area. But there was
never any financial penalty associated with his late arrival.
Has it now become standard practice in the trucking
industry to penalize truckers for late arrivals -- even when
circumstances are beyond their control? We will discuss some of these
Legal Contracts in
Do shippers and receivers have a right to put a
financial penalty into their terms for pick-up and delivery?
Sure they do!
Legal contracts (at least in the USA) may include sections or terms regarding obligations in
exchange for payment.
Furthermore, we do not think that contracts between
shippers/receivers and truckers/trucking companies need to be regulated
or legislated. These two groups of folks should be allowed to freely
accept or decline the opportunity to enter into contracts, no matter
how binding they may be.
What concerns us is that trucking companies would be
to enter into contracts on
behalf of their drivers in which the
drivers could receive a personal
financial penalty for the operation of
their trucks. Note that it is not
the trucking company being fined, but
Understand the Terms
Every trucker needs to read his/her entire dispatch to
understand all the terms
involved before accepting
it. With the
exception of re-powered loads, it is usually the case that any trucker
who picks up the freight is bound by the terms in the dispatch from
pick-up to delivery.
If the dispatch includes a trucker penalty for a late
arrival -- and you're late for your appointment -- you can expect to
pay the fine. For many
truckers, a $500 fine means an entire week's
worth of pay swirling down the drain. (Ouch!)
Consider what will happen if you
- agree to take such a
- are involved in a situation
that is completely
your control; and
- are forced to be late for an
think of several such situations where assessing a financial penalty
would be totally unreasonable, including:
- equipment breakdown where no
re-power is possible;
- traffic congestion due to an
- weather-related difficulties
(such as white-out conditions causing road closures or even the May
2013 tornado in Oklahoma).
In her May 6, 2013 podcast,
Vicki commented on an
article that reported that the traffic congestion from a truck accident
shut down all lanes of the highway "for 7 hours for fuel and debris
What if you
- were stuck in that 7-hour clog
with nowhere to go,
- were only an hour away from
your destination and
- had only 3 hours in your Hours
of Service left to drive for the day?
Is it possible that in situations like these, a trucker
can call his/her trucking company to get the appointment changed?
Perhaps "customer service" can call the
Then again, perhaps changing the appointment isn't
possible. It depends on the customer.
Regarding Taking Loads With a Financial
Every trucker should weigh the risks of accepting or
declining loads with a financial penalty attached.
Answer these questions for yourself:
- Does the load pick up at a
shipper or deliver at a receiver who is notorious for delaying truckers?
- Will you be paid waiting pay
that equals or exceeds what you could be earning by driving?
- Will the load be transported
through areas where traffic congestion is likely (see list of top 10
most congested cities)?
For company drivers who are under a "forced dispatch"
system, ask the following regarding your refusal to take a load:
- Could you be thrown to the
bottom of the dispatch pile?
- Could you earn a reputation for
being a "load refuser" or "hard to get along with"?
- Could you lose your job?
What Can Truckers Do?
Besides refusing to take loads with a financial penalty,
truckers are not without recourse.
There may be repercussions as a result, but any or
all of the following can potentially be done regarding taking a load
with a financial penalty:
- Complain to your trucking
- Require that you be paid for
all of your waiting time; and/or
- Report the wait
time imposed by
shippers and receivers that delay truck drivers in docks.
Can truckers be terminated for reporting online the wait
time imposed by a certain shipper or receiver? We've never heard of it
Then again, think this through: If your trucking company
exposes you to a potential personal financial penalty and then silences
you when you're inconvenienced, is that the kind of company you want to
Wake Up, Truckers!
Truckers, which one are you:
- a valuable employee
helping your trucking company add to its bottom line or
- an expendable pawn whom
trucking company doesn't mind sacrificing if something outside your
control happens to cause you to arrive late?
Why would your trucking company accept the business of
any shipper or receiver who is willing to personally penalize you when
there are so many unknowns that could affect your arrival?
We ask every trucker to uphold the dignity and respect
associated with having successfully earned a commercial driver's
license and obtained a job in an honorable profession.
We think you deserve
better than to be given dispatches
with a personal financial penalty attached.
We urge all professional truck drivers not to be cowed,
intimidated or threatened into taking freight under such conditions.
Wake Up, Trucking
True professional truck drivers don't need to be
threatened with a personal financial penalty in order to get them to do
their jobs as safely, as efficiently and as quickly as possible. They
have enough pressures on them in the course of their work.
When truckers with self-respect start to stand up for
themselves by refusing dispatches that contain personally penalizing
clauses and conditions, only these truckers will be left
to haul those
loads: those who are easy-to-intimidate, overconfident or
Think about it.
- If a trucker can be intimidated
in one area, can he/she be intimidated in another?
- If a trucker is overconfident
about his/her abilities, is he/she likely to endanger equipment or
- If a trucker is financially
pressured, what will he/she be willing to do to relieve that pressure?
In any of these cases, truckers with these
characteristics may be willing to take risks with your trucks and the
freight in them.
Do you as a trucking company really want for these
characteristics to describe your drivers?
If you as a trucking company accept business
with a potential trucker penalty, you are
not engaging in "Golden Rule" behavior.
What if the roles were
Do you think that your planners, dispatchers and
management -- those inside the company -- would want to be held personally financially responsible
for the on-time delivery of your trucks or loads?
Of course not.
remind you that you need to respect your drivers as
the professionals they are and to "Do unto your truckers as you would
have your truckers do unto you."
Our Prediction about
the Future of the Trucking Industry
More and more professional truck drivers are using the
Internet and social media to stay connected. They are sending out
tweets, making Facebook posts, writing blogs and creating YouTube
videos about their experiences on the road.
Wendy Parker said in her article that she wrote a
Facebook post to the company that issued the dispatch with the
financial penalty statement.
As greater and greater numbers of truckers become united
in an online community, it will become harder and harder to treat them
as less than professional.
Professional truck drivers move about 70% of the freight
in the USA. Many businesses cannot operate without the services that
When self-respecting professional truck drivers stand
together and "Just say NO to trucker penalized freight!" then only
easy-to-intimidate, overconfident or financially pressured truckers
will be left to haul it.
We predict that shippers/receivers who insist on putting
conditions in their terms that personally
penalize truckers for late
arrivals and missed appointments will:
- find it harder and harder to
find truckers to haul their freight;
- experience greater losses of
freight due to truck accidents involving pressured truckers; and
- realize smaller and smaller
Should all those things happen, then the
trucker-penalizing shippers/receivers will eventually be forced out of
business and the poison of the financial penalties they imposed against
truckers will stop.
from Financial Penalty
for Missed Appointment, Late Arrival by Trucker to our Truck Operations page
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