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 from 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 is 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




Final report is under Agency review for publication.


Virginia Technical Transportation Institute

Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2015
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