Despite federally mandated limits on the number of hours commercial drivers are permitted to work on a daily/weekly basis, impaired driving, including fatigue-related impairment, continues to be a principal cause of serious accidents. In fact, driver impairment was specifically identified as a factor in more than 15,000 truck/bus crashes in 2012 alone.
Commercial drivers are obligated to track their hours of service in log books which they keep in their trucks and turn in to their employers. However, it is well known fact that drivers regularly violate the hours of service rules, often as a result of direct or indirect prompting by their employers. Some drivers engage in outright fraud by purposefully doctoring the data in their driver logs. As a result, lawyers and industry watchdog groups have been lobbying for change for quite some time. Fortunately, the Federal Government now appears to be listening and taking action.
As part of its ongoing effort to enhance public safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has just announced a proposed change to its rules concerning these critically important driver’s logs. The proposal includes changes which would require commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles. Amongst the proposals chief goals, are improved compliance with existing safety rules restricting drivers’ hours-of-service, a reduction in the paperwork associated with tracking drivers’ hours-of-service, and improvement in the overall quality of drivers’ logbook data.
The proposed rule is expected to reduce the frequency of hours-of-service violations by making it harder for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks, and by making it easier for the FMCSA and law enforcement to detect fraud.
The full text of the proposed rule can be found here.
Several options are under consideration with this proposed rule-making, and the matter is open for public comment. For more information on the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule-making on Electronic Logging Devices, click here.