DOT Proposes Use of Electronic Logbook Devices to Improve Truck Safety
Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles to improve compliance with safety rules that govern the amount of hours a driver can work.
In recent blogs, I have talked a lot about Hours of Service (HOS) in light of the two horrific truck accidents on Illinois interstates. The new proposed rule would significantly reduce the amount of paperwork associated with the hours-of service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers and improve the quality of the logbook data
“Today’s proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork”, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “By leveraging innovative technology with Electronic Logging Devices, we have the opportunity to save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors”.
It is hoped that the proposal would ultimately reduce hours -of-service violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks and avoid detection by the FMCSA and law enforcement personnel. Analysis shows it will also help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million
“By implementing Electronic Logging Devices, we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel, “said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro, “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial bus and truck industries”
The Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking supersedes the 2011 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to electronic on-board recorders. It includes provisions to:
- Respect driver privacy by ensuring that the ELD records continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers. ELD’s will continue to be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.
- Protect drivers from harassment through an explicit prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner towards a driver using information from an ELD. It also establishes a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier who engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal will continue to ensure that drivers have access to their own records and require ELD’s to have a mute function to protect against disruptions during the sleep birth periods.
- Increase efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review driver logbooks by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat
Many trucking companies already have on board recorders that record much information about hours of service, location of the truck, routes and even factors such as hard braking. An Electronic Logging Device requirement would require all drivers to keep the same kind of log. Instead of keeping one log for their personal use and one log for the inspections……….not all truck drivers engage in this behavior, but ELD’s would systematically make record keeping easier, more accurate and more honest.
Ultimate Goal of New Proposal
Ultimately, the goal of instituting a proposal such as this is not to create a hardship for truck drivers. In fact, the provision actually addresses the notion that a carrier may harass the truck driver into driving past their hours of service in order to meet a deadline. These ELD’s would work to protect other motorists and truck drivers from the ill effects of fatigued truck driving such as resulting truck accidents.
Impaired driving, including fatigue, was listed as a factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or busses in 2012. If you are in an accident involving a truck, you may not know immediately all of the factors that contributed to the crash. Chances are, if you were in a crash with a semi-truck, you are seriously injured and will need an expert truck accident attorney to continue that investigation. State agencies investigate most truck accidents and certainly fatal truck accidents. Discovering all of the factors that caused the crash is important for two reasons: one, discovering liability for the accident and two) learning how factors influenced the accident and how to prevent and promote safety in the future to reduce the number of like accidents.
Our attorneys are expert truck accident attorneys and we understand the steps of the investigation process and the parties that may or may not be liable depending on the specific set of facts in the case. Unless you work in the trucking industry, you may or may not know all of the regulations on commercial carriers and the responsibilities they have in regard to maintenance of the trucks and buses and the regulations they must comply in regard to time the driver can be behind the wheel. At The Cagle Law Firm, we stay abreast of modern technology and ways to gather information regarding a drivers’ driving history and events leading up the accident.
Consultations are always free and we are available seven days a week, locally (314) 276-1681 or toll free (800)685-3302