Unaccompanied Trailers vs Driver Accompanied Freight

What’s best, driver accompanied or unaccompanied trailers?

The answer to this question really depends on the type of freight you want to move. Is it time-critical freight? Is it perishable freight? Is it high value?

Driver accompanied trailer movements account for almost 75% of the freight crossing to and from Europe each year. A driver-accompanied operation will see the driver remaining with the loaded trailer from collection to delivery. With an un-accompanied trailer operation, the UK driver collects an export load and takes it to a port, such as Immingham, Felixstowe or Harwich, where he will uncouple the trailer. A shunter tractor unit will take the trailer on board the ferry. On arrival at the European port, the trailer will be taken off the ferry and left on the quayside until the driver collecting it arrives, couples his tractor unit to it and heads off to the delivery point.

Although un-accompanied trailers can still be delivered in similar time scales to driver accompanied, un-accompanied trailer deliveries in general take longer as they need to allow for the loading and offloading of the trailer at the port of departure and arrival. There’s no flexibility if the un-accompanied trailer misses a ferry crossing. The trailer will be loaded on the next crossing which sometimes can be the next day. As most driver-accompanied trailers are shipped via Dover and Eurotunnel, the consequences of missing one ferry or train are not that severe.

As un-accompanied trailer operators are not paying for a tractor unit on the ferry, their ferry cost invariably is less than driver accompanied. Also, goods can be left on the trailer awaiting a delivery slot at a relatively low trailer rental cost, £30 a day. If a driver accompanied trailer is immobilised for a day waiting for a delivery slot, this can attract a charge of around £350-£400 per day in demurrage charges.

In brief, un-accompanied trailers can help to reduce costs, whilst driver accompanied ones offer greater speed and flexibility.

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