FMCSA Seeks Information on CMV Driver Detention Times During Loading and Unloading

Transportation Update

Date: July 25, 2019

Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a request for information concerning commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver detention times during loading and unloading.

The request for information follows several studies examining the issue of CMV driver delays during loading and unloading and their impact on roadway safety and the economy. In 2011, the Government Accountability Office recommended that FMCSA examine “the extent to which detention time contributes to hours of service violations in its future studies on driver fatigue and detention time.”[1] In response, FMCSA sponsored a study “to better understand the nature of detention times in the [CMV] industry,”[2] which found that “drivers experienced detention time during approximately 1 in every 10 stops for an average duration of 1.4 hours” beyond a commercially accepted two-hour period.[3]

In a more recent report, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General recommended that FMCSA “[c]ollaborate with industry stakeholders to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze reliable, accurate, and representative data on the frequency and severity of driver detention times.”[4] In its request for information, FMCSA identified that there is a critical data gap in its understanding of the detention issue as to the distinction between normal loading and unloading times and detention time. To assist the agency in further evaluating this issue and potential implications for safety, it has requested responses to the following questions:

  • Are data currently available that can accurately record loading, unloading, and delay times?
  • Is there technology available that could record and delineate prompt loading and unloading times versus the extended delays sometimes experienced by drivers?
  • How can delay times be captured and recorded in a systematic, comparable manner?
  • Could systematic collection and publication of loading, unloading, and delay times be useful in driver or carrier business decisions and help to reduce loading, unloading, and delay times?
  • What should FMCSA use as an estimate of reasonable loading/unloading time? Please provide a basis for your response.
  • How do contract arrangements between carriers and shippers address acceptable wait times? Do these arrangements include penalties for delays attributable to a carrier or shipper?
  • What actions by FMCSA, within its current statutory authority, would help to reduce loading, unloading, and delay times?

Responses to FMCSA’s request for information may be submitted until September 9, 2019.


For more information, please contact:

Karyn A. Booth

Jason D. Tutrone

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[1] “More Could Be Done to Determine Impact of Excessive Loading and Unloading Wait Times on Hours of Service Violations” (GAO–11–198) (January 2011), available at

[2] “Driver Detention Times in Commercial Motor Vehicle Operations” (December 2014), available at

[3] See id.

[4] “Estimates Show Commercial Driver Detention Increases Crash Risks and Costs, but Current Data Limit Further Analysis,” DOT Office of Inspector General (January 31, 2018) at 13.