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Can ELD data put the detention issue to rest?

Editor's note: This is a continuation of a story looking at the detenton time.

Dan Murray, senior vice president of the American Transportation Research Institute, said it is very clear from the recent report on detention that there is not a strictly gender basis for longer detention times for women.

Data analysts "thought it was ultimately just a psychological approach to detention, and how [women] deal with it," Murray said. "But again, that's our hypothesis, because other than conducting the interviews after we did the data analysis, it's in the world of research, it's a correlation. We can't say what it causes, but we can say what the indications are for why it might."

Murray said one suggested reason for longer detention — patience — may also be the reason why women drivers are safer than their male counterparts, according to crash studies.

"We think that the same explanation that women gave us, that they're more patient, more relaxed, less aggressive, is what's showing up in the safety data, so that may make them safer on the road," he said. "Those tendencies are probably the same thing that keeps them from rattling cages at the dock. That's all we can surmise… This factor, which seems to work against them [women] in terms of compensation delays, may be the same effect on the roadside that makes them considerably safer than male drivers."

Like all self-reporting studies, which is the basis for data collection in this case, is fraught with flaws because people's perceptions are not always an accurate representation of facts. "Women could feel, literally perceive, that the time is longer than it really is, or you truly could sort of intuitively say, 'Well, men are much more aggressive.'"

One possible solution to prevent biases is a study of electronic logging data, which ATRI hopes to undertake. "We'll have to do some initial mining to see if there's enough information in our ELD data to discern gender. If there is, we can say without a doubt whether women are detained longer or not."

Murray concludes that they have ELD data which they anonymize by name and CDL number.

"Whether or not gender's still in there, I'm not sure. We'll have to look into that. I'll have somebody check the data and see if there's some kind of indication, because that will put this to bed. No matter what you think, the data can tell you how long on average you're being detained," he said. 

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