The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has again announced intentions to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to track compliance with hours-of-service regulations. HOS regulations include daily driving limits and other restrictions that aim to reduce the risk of exhausted truckers.
The agency first made the proposal in 2011, under court order to move forward with a regulation that has been mandated by Congress since the mid-1990s, according to an article in Overdrive Magazine. Still the FMCSA has failed to enact rules requiring either the data recorders or speed limiting devices for commercial trucks, despite their use in most other industrialized nations.
An experienced Wilmington, NC fatigued truck driver accident attorney understands the correlation. For years handwritten log books have been easily forged by drivers looking to work that extra hour and make that extra dollar, or by short-handed trucking companies that need to move freight on deadline. Until we stop paying truckers by the mile traveled, they are going to either speed or drive longer than they should when looking to make up for lost time.
Data recorders, speed limiters hold truckers accountable
Organizations like RoadSafe America (RSA) continue to push the government to pass data-recorder and speed-limiter requirements in tandem.
“RSA knows that if trucks are slowed via the use of speed limiters, some drivers will be tempted to cheat on their drive time to make up miles,” RoadSafe America said in a statement when the electronic recorders were initially proposed in 2011. “Similarly, if their hours of driving are monitored electronically, but the speed is not limited, the unsafe driver will be tempted to drive too fast.”
Established in 2000 to regulate the trucking industry with the goal of improving motor-carrier safety, the FMCSA has come under increasing fire for being ineffective. Nearly 15 years after formation, the federal bureaucracy employees more than 1,000 people and yet trucking fatalities increased again in the most recent year for which statistics are available – up 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to statistics just released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And still the agency has yet to enact a rule requiring either electronic data recorders to track hours-of-service compliance or speed limiters, to reduce the inherent risks of 80,000 pound vehicles exceeding the speed limit.
The FMCSA reports the updated proposal incorporates feedback from two public listening sessions and comments filed after the 2011 proposal. It estimates fatigued truckers are responsible for at least 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year, although those numbers are likely quite conservative and the accuracy of the agency’s data has recently been called into question. In fact, an audit by the Government Accounting Office, the fiscal watchdog of Congress, found the FMCSA was not even particularly adept at collecting data in a manner that would identify those carriers and drivers most likely to present a risk to the public!
And, while a 2012 study by the FMCSA found “profound safety benefit,” to speed limiters, and a speed-limiter rule was proposed by the NHTSA in 2011, a new proposal is thus far only rumored for late 2014.