Federal rules enacted in 2020 require commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices. These devices are intended to ensure that truck drivers take their required breaks thereby cutting down on truck accidents caused by fatigued driving.
These automated devices also prevent drivers from falsifying their driving logs, which were previously manually recorded. A truck driver might skip a mandatory rest break for any number of reasons, including pressure from their employer to meet impossible delivery times. Fatigued or drowsy driving is a huge issue within the trucking industry and has been a leading cause of collisions among long-haul truckers.
The Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp help those injured in trucking accidents pursue financial compensation for their medical bills and other damages.
What are Truckers’ Electronic Logbooks and Hours of Service?
The trucking industry follows the Hours of Service regulations which govern the maximum consecutive length of time a truck driver is permitted to be behind the wheel, as well as the number and duration of the rest periods a driver is required to take on each shift. A truck driver’s driving time is limited in order to prevent them from operating their vehicle while they are tired or fatigued.
The industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In September 2020, the FMCSA adopted new Hours of Service laws that require truck drivers who prepare duty status records to record their driving time with an electronic logging device. The regulations also dictate the device’s design standards and require them to be certified and registered.
An ELD contains software that connects to the truck’s engine and various other components. It records the date, time of movement, and miles driven. It also captures engine data and keeps dispatchers advised of the driver’s location. Drivers verify the records, make any essential notations, and submit them as required.
How Can Electronic Logbooks Help Reduce Truck Accidents?
Hours of service rules are complicated. They require truck drivers to take a full 30-minute break for every eight successive hours of driving. The rules also restrict the overall hours a trucker can drive in a single shift and in a seven or eight-day workweek. Forcing drivers to take time to rest is intended to reduce the number of sleep-deprived truck drivers on the roadway and, by extension, reduce the number of truck accidents.
ELDs are, at their core, a tool for enforcement. Since they automatically document the vehicle’s movement by date, time, and location, it is significantly harder for drivers to falsify their breaks or their driving time. Some ELDs can even identify HOS violations.
The use of electronic logging devices also discourages trucking companies from putting pressure on drivers to keep driving while they are dangerously tired and then falsifying their records to cover it up. The design of the ELD only allows the driver and the trucking company to make a limited number of edits. The original record itself cannot be changed. This means that carriers who compel truck drivers to violate the hours-of-service regulations will leave a digital trail of breadcrumbs in the form of original and revised records. The driver verification of ELD records is also designed, in part, to safeguard truck drivers from unilateral modifications made by the trucking company, a factor they have readily identified as part of their work experience.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study noted that 13% of truck drivers were believed to have been drowsy at the time of their accident. A report published by the FMCSA in 2018 indicated that 1.3% of truck drivers involved in fatal collisions were fatigued or asleep at the time of their accident.
Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Unfortunately, enforcing the hours of service rules only confronts one of the many common causes of truck accidents. Our Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys know how to effectively investigate and identify the cause of a Virginia truck accident that left you injured and help you pursue compensation for your damages.
Call the renowned Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 or through the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation today.