Can trucker fatigue be stopped?

The federal government has instituted specific rules governing truckers’ driving time to combat fatigue and now also requires time to be logged electronically.

People who live in Maryland have good reason to be concerned about their safety when sharing the roads and highways with semi-trucks operated by often tired drivers. According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 276 people lost their lives in large truck accidents in Maryland between 2013 and 2017. In Maryland, serious accidents involving big trucks have occurred on Interstate 95, Route 301, Route 50, and Route 13 to name just a few.

The factors involved in those 276 deaths may vary but fatigue among commercial truck drivers has long been a known problem. The federal government is now trying to use technology to help crack down on this issue.

The Hours of Service rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has had in place for some time now a rule that caps the number of hours a trucker may drive each work day and each work week. The rule also outlined when breaks should be taken and how long those breaks should last.

While this should have provided some way to guard against fatigued driving, the fact of the matter is that drivers were not held accountable for following the rule. Logs that kept track of driving times were kept in old-fashioned pen-and-paper format. This clearly opened the door to records that may not have told the full story.

The ELD rule

Eventually, the FMCSA instituted what it called the Electronic Logging Device rule. This required truckers to switch from hardcopy records to records captured electronically. The goal here was clearly to get a more accurate look at drive times and push greater compliance with the HoS rule.

Transport Topics indicates that early versions of electronic devices are now expected to be phased out completely by mid-December of this year. Among the changes associated with the new ELDs are new processes for how logs may be edited and who may edit them. In addition, new devices run on more current networks as opposed to the soon-to-be-outdated 2G and 3G networks.

New ELDs may also require companies to take a look at their policies and procedures to ensure they are in line with the ELD rule.

The Commercial Carrier Journal reported that early data from electronic logging devices may well inform future changes to the Hours of Service rule although no details about what those changes may look like have been released.

Truck accidents require careful follow up

Anyone who is impacted by a large truck accident should contact an experienced personal injury attorney promptly. When working with transportation companies and their insurers, it is essential to have someone who knows the laws and can advocate for individuals.