New Electronic Logging Requirements for Truckers Finally Roll Out
Anyone who has taken a long road trip knows the hypnotic effect the road can have on drivers. With enough sleep and occasional rest stops, most people manage to stay awake and arrive safely at their destinations. Long-haul truck drivers may have more experience than the average motorist, but they are not immune to the effects of drowsy driving.
Each Charlotte tractor trailer accident attorney at our firm regularly assists individuals who were severely injured by truck drivers whose drowsiness caused them to lose focus behind the wheel. Even though truckers are required to maintain records of their time on the road, many drivers have found ways to make alterations that can ultimately endanger other motorists. Hopefully, the new recordkeeping rules will help save lives.
Stricter Logging Rules Protect Motorists and Truckers
In December 2015, CBS News posted an article reporting that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated electronic logging of truck driver hours. The mandate became effective as of February, 2016, but it provides a two-year window for truckers to comply. The main elements of the new rules are as follows:
- Most commercial truck and bus drivers who maintain paper log books are required to adopt electronic logging devices (ELDs) over a two-year period.
- Driver harassment is strictly prohibited, largely to help prevent motor carriers from forcing longer hours when drivers operate within a less-than-maximum number of hours due to drowsiness or other concerns.
- ELDs must comply with specific technology specifications.
- Paperwork is reduced because of new hours-of-service supporting documentation requirements that are no longer needed for verification purposes.
In addition to the concerns about driver harassment, many truckers objected to the significant expense of adding these devices to their trucks. The FMCSA responded to these objections by exempting tow–truck drivers who use time cards and vehicles older than model year 2000. It also permits drivers to use smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, as long as they satisfy technical specifications.
Even New ELD Requirements Cannot Fully Eradicate Drowsy Driving Trucking Accidents
The FMCSA estimates that the new regulations will save nearly 30 lives and 600 injuries on an annual basis, even as it saves about $1 billion per year, largely due to paperwork reduction. Of course, it is too early to determine the actual benefits of the new law and it is also too early to identify the possible downsides.
Any technological device runs on software that can have errors that affect the accuracy of data. Additionally, it is logical to expect that some individuals will attempt to hack these devices regardless of strong anti-tampering designs. In other words, in the event of a trucking accident, ELD data may not necessarily provide truckers or their carriers with strong defenses against injury claims or lawsuits.
Regardless of stronger regulations designed to prevent drowsy driving, experienced trucking accident attorneys continue to delve into every detail behind a case — including supporting data used for defenses. To schedule a free initial consultation after a trucking accident, call us at 800-948-0577 or use our convenient online contact form.