Drowsy driving is a serious national problem. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey reported that 1 in 25 adult drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving during the month leading up to the survey. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes are caused by drowsy driving each year.
Under pressure from trucking companies and shippers to deliver their haul quickly, commercial truck drivers are among the drivers most likely to drive drowsy, according to the CDC. Statistically, truck crashes are among the most serious road accidents. Commercial vehicles are taller and heavier than passenger vehicles, resulting in more serious injuries to smaller car passengers when involved in collisions. Recently, safety groups and federal officials have been seeking ways to reduce the instances of drowsy driving and the occurrence of these serious crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has approved a final rule requiring truck drivers to keep an electronic log of their time behind the wheel.
Electronic Logging Devices Replace Paper Logs
Currently, drivers are required to keep a log of their time on the road and are limited in the number of hours they are allowed to drive consecutively. These logs are typically recorded with paper and pencil. Supporters of electronic logs say they are extremely easy to exploit. The logbooks are open to inspection by officials, and logbook violations were the top infractions in roadside inspections in 2014.
The new electronic version of the logbook will be required “to strengthen commercial truck compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue,” according to the FMCSA. They estimate the rule will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries from drowsy driving crashes.
Rule Seeks to Improve Hours of Service Compliance
The rule does not require the use of one specific device, but rather the use of the technology, which can synchronize to a truck’s engine to automatically record driving time. In addition to aiding the enforcement of the hours of service rules, some listed benefits include:
- Significantly lower costs.
- Increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement and inspections.
- Reduce driver harassment.
- Reduce the paperwork truckers must retain to support their duty hours log.
Trucking companies and operators will have two years to implement the new automated logging system.
Safety officials state that electronic logging will increase compliance with driving hours rules and reduce the number of drowsy driving accidents on our nation’s roadways. They are seeking to address what is already a serious problem that has had deadly consequences for many travelers. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a truck accident, you may be eligible to make a claim. Contact the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm through our website for a free, no-obligation consultation.