With few exceptions, commercial truck drivers are required to adhere to rules concerning their time on the road. Fatigued drivers are dangerous drivers, and mandates exist to ensure that drivers are properly rested.
Previously, drivers were obligated to keep a written log of their driving hours and their rest hours, which they would need to share with officials during an inspection. In 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made some changes to this requirement by instituting an electronic logging system.
What Is an Electronic Logging Device?
Handwritten logs can be easily changed, and there is no way to prove that the information in the log is an accurate reflection of a trucker’s time on the road. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) were created to provide a new, more precise record of trucking activities. These devices synchronize with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record drive time. They save information about time, miles traveled, vehicle movements, and engine operation. Drivers and trucking companies were asked to comply with this new requirement by December 2017.
Have These Devices Been Effective?
The goal of electronic logging devices was to reduce accidents on the road by creating better access to data related to a driver’s operations and ensuring drivers adhere to hours of service rules. Now, nearly two years later, it’s worth asking the question—have these devices been effective? Well, it depends.
One recent study reported that compliance with hours of service rules did, in fact, increase. Intentional violations have decreased since the ELDs were implemented.
However, driver hours compliance doesn’t tell the whole story. The study also showed that crash statistics remain unchanged prior to ELD usage. Additionally, there was an increase in unsafe driving infractions cited to smaller trucking companies. Drivers cite the inflexibility of the ELD as a reason for these behaviors. Drivers felt they must rush to deliver cargo, for example, if they were held up at a loading dock while on the clock, and this pressure was felt more by smaller companies.
What Do ELDs Mean for Virginia Accident Victims?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that nearly 800 people were killed in drowsy-driving related crashes in 2017. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or been killed in a crash with a truck, you may suspect the driver was fatigued. Information from the ELD can be obtained to determine if a driver was in violation of the hours of service at the time of the accident and can help paint a picture of the driver’s behavior in the time leading up to the accident.
All drivers have a responsibility to adhere to the law and act responsibly behind the wheel. When they fail in this duty, they can be held accountable. Legal claims can provide the justice and compensation victims and their families need to move forward after a crash. Call our Fairfax office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to speak with a member of our legal team who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.