5 Tips for Handling Accessorial Freight Charges in Trucking

Reviewed by
Vedant Khamesra
Published date:
May 28, 2024

5 Tips for Handling Accessorial Freight Charges in OTR Trucking

Navigating the landscape of OTR trucking can often feel like steering through a maze of hidden costs. Among these, accessorial freight charges stand out as a significant yet manageable expense. A staggering 20% of total freight costs can be attributed to extra charges and unexpected accessorial fees, often due to special handling, residential delivery, and other tailored services within the supply chain. These additional costs, while seemingly minor on individual bills, can accumulate to form a sizable part of your operational expenses. 

For shippers and fleet managers alike, understanding and effectively managing these charges is essential—not only to curb extra fees but also to enhance overall efficiency in OTR trucking operations. In this guide, we delve into practical tips for mitigating common accessorial charges, ensuring that every dollar spent is an investment toward more streamlined, cost-efficient operations.

Understand Common Accessorial Charges

An accessorial fee in OTR trucking, such as detention pay, layover pay, and lumper fees, represents more than a mere line item on an invoice; it signifies potential inefficiencies within your shipping operations. Detention fees arise when drivers are forced to wait beyond a scheduled time to load or unload, critically impacting truck productivity. Layover fees are incurred when drivers need to stay overnight due to unforeseen scheduling delays, and lumper fees are assessed for the manual labor involved in loading and unloading freight. 

Understanding these accessorial fees, alongside other common charges like hazardous materials handling and inside delivery fees, is key. An additional charge or extra fee is often applied when transporting sensitive materials or delivering directly to specific locations within a facility, adding complexity and potential cost. Strategic planning and a robust understanding of these charges can transform potential financial losses into enhanced operational efficiencies, reducing the overall freight accessorial charges and improving the bottom line.

Negotiate Clear Terms with Shippers

Negotiating clear and concise terms with shippers is pivotal in effectively managing freight accessorial charges. Transparent agreements about potential additional shipping costs and accessorial fees prevent billing surprises and foster a trust-based relationship between shippers and carriers. 

Clear definitions of terms such as detention policies and layover pay are also essential. These discussions help both parties create a shared understanding that guards against unexpected freight accessorials, ensuring smooth operational flow and financial predictability. This clarity is particularly important when dealing with freight brokers and other intermediaries, who must communicate the terms of carriage to both shippers and carriers effectively.

Implement Efficient Communication Channels

Robust and efficient communication forms the backbone of successful freight management and is critical in understanding how to manage a fleet of trucks effectively. Miscommunications between drivers, dispatchers, and shippers can lead to unwarranted accessorial charges. By implementing advanced communication channels and technological solutions like real-time tracking systems and mobile apps, all stakeholders in the transportation process can stay aligned, significantly reducing the risk of incurring an additional fee. These technologies not only enhance transparency but also improve responsiveness, helping to manage freight shipping operations more smoothly and reducing costs associated with accessorial fees.

Track and Monitor Accessorial Activities

Proactively managing trucking accessorial charges requires real-time tracking and monitoring of these activities. Advanced fleet tracking systems provide fleet managers with real-time data, enabling them to spot trends and make informed decisions swiftly. Integrating tools like AtoB fuel cards offers additional savings and streamlined reporting, crucial for effective freight accessorial charge management. These systems are indispensable for maintaining cost control and operational oversight, ensuring that additional charges related to shipment handling are kept to a minimum.

Provide Ongoing Training and Support

Educating your team about the implications of accessorial charges and best practices to avoid them is equally important. Ongoing training and support ensure that drivers and fleet managers are well-versed in managing these costs effectively. Utilizing resources like AtoB fleet fuel cards during these training sessions can demonstrate practical tools for managing operational costs efficiently. Continuous education helps your team stay ahead of potential issues related to accessorial fees, fostering a proactive approach to freight transportation and carrier management.

Mastering Accessorial Freight Charges

Mastering the management of accessorial freight charges involves more than merely sidestepping an extra charge; it's about adopting a proactive and informed approach to fleet management. By deeply understanding the spectrum of common charges, from additional fees to extra charges, and by negotiating clear terms, fleet managers can forge a path toward minimizing unnecessary freight costs. 

Enhancing communication channels ensures that every stakeholder, from shippers to freight brokers, stays informed, reducing the likelihood of unforeseen additional charges. Meticulously tracking these activities helps in promptly addressing any extra fees or additional service costs that may arise. Providing robust ongoing support to your team ensures that everyone is equipped to handle every aspect of accessorial service efficiently. 

Implement these comprehensive strategies and utilize the powerful tools provided by AtoB, not just to navigate but to truly excel in the competitive world of OTR trucking. By doing so, you enhance both the operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your fleet, effectively managing any additional cost associated with freight and optimizing overall financial performance.


"Delivery Area Surcharges and Other Parcel Rate Hikes to Watch Out for in 2024." SupplyChainBrain, https://www.supplychainbrain.com/blogs/1-think-tank/post/38888-delivery-area-surcharges-and-other-parcel-rate-hikes-to-watch-out-for-in-2024

"Layover Pay and Driver Communication: What Should Your Fleet Be Paying?" DriverWages.com, https://driverwages.com/layover-pay-and-driver-communication-what-should-your-fleet-be-paying/

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Reviewed by

Vedant Khamesra

Vedant Khamesra is the driving force behind product management at AtoB. Specializing in strategic partnerships, SMB solutions, and new product development, Vedant seamlessly navigates P&L responsibilities while leading product execution and strategy. He is fueled by AtoB's mission to empower truckers and fleets with intelligent financial tools and services, making their lives easier and more rewarding.

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