Last December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began requiring many commercial trucks to install electronic logging devices (ELDs). Although there are exceptions to the mandate, more than three million commercial trucks were required to have ELDs installed by December 17. These devices synchronize with a truck’s engine to record driving time, vehicle miles and location information. The ELD mandate can help roadside inspectors verify hours-of-service compliance.
Hours-of-service rules dictate how long commercial truckers can drive their vehicles before they must take rest breaks. These regulations were created to prevent fatigued commercial drivers from causing accidents. For many years, commercial truck drivers recorded their hours of service compliance in paper logbooks. Paper logbooks had several weaknesses. Truck drivers could violate the regulations by falsifying their driving hours. In other cases, they would make errors in the logbooks without realizing they were not in compliance.
ELDs automatically record information directly from the engine. Roadside inspectors can view information to catch drivers who are not in compliance with hours of service rules.
Why Do We Need Hours of Service Rules?
Hours-of-service rules are designed to prevent overworked, sleep-deprived commercial truck drivers from falling asleep behind the wheel.
We published a blog earlier this month that discussed why drowsy drivers are more likely to crash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsiness slows reaction time, impairs concentration and affects decision-making abilities. These are a bad combination of symptoms for someone who is operating a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
While the ELD mandate is expected to improve safety, there are still other reasons why commercial truckers can cause drowsy driving accidents. There are no rules on testing for sleep apnea, a condition that causes excessive daytime drowsiness. Presently, commercial carriers or Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examiners can choose to test drivers to sleep apnea. Several months ago, the DOT scrapped a rule that would have established guidelines for identifying commercial drivers who were at risk for having the condition. At-risk drivers could have been screened and possibly treated.
Call Us for Questions About Legal Options After a Truck Accident
The McArthur Law Firm takes truck accident cases in Georgia and throughout the US. If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, then you could speak to one of our attorneys to discuss whether you have legal options to hold the commercial carrier or other parties accountable. It costs nothing to speak with an attorney at the McArthur Law Firm.