The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
What it is
Electronic logging devices or ELDs will replace on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers traditionally recorded by pencil and paper—an outdated method that dates back to 1938. ELDs will bring logging records into the modern age by automatically recording driving time. It will also monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information.
The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.
Carriers and drivers who aren’t currently using automatic log recording devices, must install ELDs no later December 18, 2017.
There are several benefits that stem from requiring commercial truck and bus companies to use ELDs. Some of them include:
- It will allow roadside safety inspectors to more easily unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.
- The ELD Final Rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.
- ELDs will make it more difficult for drivers to falsify their HOS (hours of service), in turn, reducing the number of crashes caused by fatigued truck drivers.
- It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records.
- Strict protections are included in the ELD rule that will protect commercial drivers from harassment.
- The use of electronic logging devices will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork.
Where the ATA Stands
The American Trucking Association, which serves as the voice for the trucking industry, recently announced its support and approval of the ELD Rule.
“Today is truly a historic day for trucking,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This regulation will change the trucking industry – for the better – forever. An already safe and efficient industry will get more so with the aid of this proven technology.”
Since 2010, a requirement for electronic logging devices to monitor driver hours-of-service has been a top priority for ATA, trucking reps have stated. That support, they claim, is what ultimately led to federal legislation calling for the rule in the first place.
Where We Stand
We believe this new rule is yet another step in the right direction in ensuring the safety of our nation’s highways. It truly is a win-win situation for not only commercial drivers—but also for the more than 200 million licensed drivers in the United States.
For every 100 million miles driven on U.S. road ways, there are 2.3 deaths and 60.5 injuries caused by big rigs. On top of that, in about 98 percent of all semi accidents, at least one fatality results, many of which result in trucking litigation. Requiring technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent many of these crashes and save lives.
Michael Leizerman is a truck accident attorney specializing in catastrophic multi-axle collisions. He understands all facets of truck accident litigation; including federal regulations, drug and alcohol testing and hours of service requirements. He has authored a treatise entitled Litigating Truck Accident Cases and often educates other attorneys on trucking laws and regulations. You can learn more about Leizerman & Associates by visiting their website, www.truckaccidents.com.