It is not easy for a car driver to navigate congested and/or wet roads. But imagine trying to do so when you are driving an enormous tractor trailer with a heavy load. This is very dangerous work, and truck drivers need to be well rested to do it in a safe manner.
That is why leading truck safety experts recommend that a federal law be passed that require electronic logging devices be utilized by tractor trailer drivers to ensure they are getting the sleep required under federal law. The measure was signed by President Obama in 2012 and is supposed to take effect at the end of 2017. But critics are fighting the requirement, and some of them are supported by members of Congress.
The bill is not popular with some trucking interests, and it is understandable to a degree. Trucking companies need to make money to stay in business. Some tired drivers no doubt want to continue to push the rules so that they can make more money. It is easier to fudge the numbers on handwritten logs. But it will be much harder to do so with electronic recording of work and sleep time.
There also is worry about the costs of buying the systems, which are called EDS. Small companies may feel the pinch when they have to buy these systems. Another issue is the lack of safe places for tractor trailers to pull over to get sleep. Some also argue that the electronic devices amount to warrantless surveillance of drivers.
Still, experts in truck safety stress, truckers driving without enough sleep is a very serious danger. Truckers who do not get enough sleep can be as dangerous as drunk drivers. Research shows that people who sleep less than four hours have a 12% higher risk of getting into an accident.
It is hoped in many quarters that the trucking industry will accept the new law and will adopt it without major complaint. This should help to reduce the risk of sleepy truck drivers getting into devastating accidents.
We are tractor trailer accident attorneys who know the devastating effects of tractor trailer crashes. We have handled many truck crash cases where the driver fell asleep; one of these truck crash cases led to devastating injuries to two children, and a $5.5 million settlement in Virginia Beach.
We would like to see trucking companies adopt the new electronic record keeping standards so that fewer accidents happen.