Research Project

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Effects of Detention Times on Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue


To better understand the nature of the problem of detention or waiting times in the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) industry and the potential safety impacts that can occur because of long detention times.


In 2001, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sponsored study found that drivers with more loads with longer-than-expected load times were associated with more driver fatigue (Crum, M. & Morrow, P., 2001). In this study, drivers reported that about 18 percent of their work time was used for schedule delays due to long wait times. Additionally, the study found a strong positive relationship between the percent of time spent loading and unloading and crash involvement. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported that approximately two-thirds of CMV drivers experienced some detention time in the past month. Drivers reported that this detention time ranged between less than 2 hours to more than 8 hours and could occur at many different types of facilities (i.e., detention time was not restricted to certain facilities). Approximately 4 percent of drivers responded that they had driven beyond the legal hours-of-service (HOS) and misrepresented driving hours in their log books due to detention time. The GAO also examined carrier experiences with detention time and found that many had implemented systems to track detention times. Carriers reported that approximately 12 percent of deliveries experienced some detention time.


Long detention or waiting times can adversely affect CMV driver fatigue. This research effort is designed to better understand the nature of this problem and to develop strategies or regulations to mitigate driver risks. The intent of the study would be to seek objective measures of detention time and the extent to which it contributes to drivers violating HOS requirements.


The output will be a report identifying the nature of the problem of detention or waiting times in the CMV industry. This study will also identify any changes in current regulations that would reduce driver wait times and could result in reduced work times for drivers. Part of the research effort also includes developing a Phase II.


October 2012: Kick-off meeting.
June 2013: Collect and analyze data.
September 2013: Submit final draft report and draft technical brief.
October 2013: Submit final project report and technical brief.


FY 2012: $200,000 - FMCSA Research and Technology
FY 2013: $300,000 - FMCSA Research and Technology


This project has started, and completion is scheduled for October 2013.


Virginia Technical Transportation Institute

Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2014