Drowsy driving is a serious problem for truckers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that fatigue was listed as factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 collisions in 2012 involving either buses or large trucks. A fatigued trucker can be held legally responsible for a truck collision with the help of an Irvine truck accident attorney.
The FMCSA has taken many steps to prevent highway truck accidents, including imposing new hours-of-service rules in July 2013 with tougher limits on maximum drive-time.
The new rules limits drivers to no more than 11 hours per day of driving and all 11 hours have to be completed within 14 hours of the time that the truck driver arrives on shift. Drivers are restricted to operating their trucks for no more than 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days and must take a 34-hour rest break to reset this clock. At least two periods on the rest break must occur between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. Long-haul truckers were also mandated to take at least a ½ hour break after eight hours of driving.
These rules have come under heavy fire from professional trucking organizations protesting that they impede productivity. As a result, truckers may have an incentive to break them despite the fact that it is against the law.
Trucking companies coping with what Business Week describes as a major trucker shortage could also put pressure on drivers not to follow FMCSA maximum drive-time rules. Since truckers keep their own logbooks, it may not be that difficult for drivers to disobey FMCSA rules. Now, however, FMCSA has suggested a switch to Electronic Logging Devices.
Electronic Logging Devices Could Help Save Lives
FMCSA indicates that electronic logging would make it harder for drivers to misrepresent the time they spend driving. It would reduce unnecessary paperwork, thus boosting efficiency at the same time as it saves lives.
Since drivers would no longer be able to lie about when or how often they drive, they are much less likely to break the rules and operate their vehicles when overtired and impaired by fatigue. The FMCSA indicates electronic logging could save as many as 20 lives each year and could also prevent 434 annual injuries caused by fatigued truckers. The estimated annual safety benefit would be $394.8 million.
Safety advocates have long been in support of a rule to require electronic tracking of truckers. As Fox News reports, the Obama Administration first issued regulations on this two years ago and FMCSA’s proposed regulation is the next step towards fulfilling Obama’s directive.
Opponents argue that there could be problems with the electronic recorders, which might be used to “harass and coerce truck drivers into continuing to drive regardless of the driving conditions.” However, the American Trucking Association suggests that imposing the new rule would level the playing field as many companies have already voluntarily moved to electronic monitoring systems to ensure that truckers follow laws on maximum drive time.