Young & McCarthy LLP

Will electronic logging make trucking safer?

Starting December 18, 2017, truckers have been required to use electronic logging device (ELD) to record the hours that they are on the road. Traditionally, their logs were kept on paper noting the number of hours they were on the road in compliance with federal limits. On April 1, 2018, they will be pulled from the road if they do not have an ELD.

Those paper logs were notoriously inaccurate, often covering up far too more hours spent behind the wheel than federal law allowed. The new ELDs cannot be cheated, and are already changing the way truckers comply with federal laws designed to keep fatigued and unsafe drivers off the road.

Hours are limited

Under rules enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), drivers are not permitted to drive for more than 11 hours during a 14 hour workday, and must take at least 10 hours off after a shift. The purpose is to make sure that they have enough rest to be alert enough to pilot a big truck safely on America’s highways.

Their hours were required to be reported on a log submitted to show compliance. These hours were never checked against submitted time cards, however. It was well known in the industry that many drivers simply wrote down what they knew the law required in their logs and drove as much as they wanted to.

Implementation of ELD

Since its implementation in December, the ELD has reported accurate driver time behind the wheel. As a result, drivers appear to be complying with the safety standards.

But according to one survey, 67% report that they are now driving few hours than they did before. This is affecting their take-home income, too. It implies that as many as two out of three trucks on the road were being driven more hours than the safety standards allowed before ELD was implemented.

Full enforcement coming

Starting in April, truckers who are found to not have an ELD will be pulled from the road entirely. The changeover is complete.

From this time forward, there is a chance that truck related accidents will drop dramatically. A study by the FMSCA in 2007 attributed 87% of all truck accidents to driver errors, and fatigue was cited as the most significant risk factor contributing to errors.

Let’s hope that with the arrival of ELD there will be fewer truck accidents on the road. The data so far suggests there will be.

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