The trucking industry is subject to scrutiny by regulation because of the capacity for an 80,000-pound vehicle to kill multiple people in a fraction of a second.
The entity that is responsible for protecting both the public and truck driver is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). One of the ways that the FMSCA protects us is by regulating the hours a driver can be on the job and behind the wheel. These safety rules, known as Hours of Service Regulations are intended to prevent tired and fatigued drivers from causing unnecessary accidents.
One of the ways that truck drivers earn extra money is by driving past the time they are permitted to under the safety regulations. With paper logs, the investigating officer and even the trucking company must rely upon the truck driver’s integrity in filling out the paperwork showing the hours the driver was on the job and behind the wheel. It is very easy for a trucker to falsify their logbooks to drive beyond the permitted hours.
Recently, the FMSCA enacted a new rule intended to bring the trucking industry into the 21st century by adopting technology that makes keeping track of hours of service simpler, more accurate and much easier for the company to monitor. By adopting the Electronic Logging Device rule, the agency short-circuits the ability of the truck driver to cheat on their logbooks.
Under the new rules, companies using the old paper logbooks must start using the electronic logging devices on or before December 18, 2017. There is a phase in approach for companies using other methods of electronic logging.
Under the new rules, the device itself is regulated and must be certified by the manufacturer to insure the device is compliant and accurate. This makes the monitoring of the truck drivers hours very simple for the company. Companies who push drivers to get the load to the destination will no longer be able to be the ostrich with the head buried in the sand when drivers cheat.
It is noteworthy that this original regulations were intended to be in effect several years ago, but the trucking industry sidetracked the rules with litigation.
In our 18-wheeler accident law practice, we routinely find drivers who falsified their logbooks to drive past the hours they were permitted to drive. Unfortunately, we only learn of the false logbooks after someone had been seriously injured or killed in a truck wreck.
The FMCSA estimates that reducing the cheating on logbooks and keeping fatigued and sleepy drivers off the road will reduce unnecessary truck crashes by 1800 a year.