Federal Rules Change to Mandate Electronic Logging Devices in Trucks, as Accident Highlights Need for the Change

Updating a rule that has long relied on outdated technology, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a regulation requiring that commercial truck and bus drivers use electronic logging devices to track the number of hours they drive each day, rather than using paper logs to track hours.

Commercial drivers are required to follow the FMCSA's hours of service rules, limiting them to 11 hours behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle during a 24-hour period. The primary means by which the FMCSA enforces these rules is with the driving logs it requires all drivers to keep, noting the miles covered, hours worked, and breaks taken. However, requiring only paper logs makes these documents highly manipulable, and does not guarantee their accuracy. Requiring electronic logging devices should improve roadway safety by creating an unalterable, automatically-recording log that comes directly from a truck or bus' on-board computer. These logs will begin automatically when the driver starts the vehicle's engine, and also record the driver's speed and GPS location, along with hours and miles driven.

A crash in Northern California is a sad example of the sort of accident this change in the law might prevent. After an overnight drive from Los Angeles to San Jose, a Greyhound Bus crashed and rolled over, injuring ten bus occupants, with two passengers being fatally injured. The bus driver, who had no prior accidents on his driving record, was seen by passengers nodding off and weaving somewhat between lanes. The driver himself admitted that he felt tired, and had drunk a cup of coffee at an earlier stop to attempt to wake himself up. While an investigation into the crash is still ongoing, in speaking with authorities the driver recalled striking protective barrels in the center median before rolling over. Greyhound Bus instructs its drivers to take a nine-hour rest period between their 10-hour driving shifts. However, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Larry Hanley, noted that commercial bus drivers are under high pressure to drive while fatigued, often feeling compelled to lie in log books about how many hours they had worked or rested. With a change in the law that makes less-manipulable electronic logs the standard, accidents caused by driver fatigue should become less commonplace.

If you have been hurt in a bus or truck crash in Kentucky and need help from an attorney to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries, contact Lexington truck accident and personal injury lawyer Stephen M. O'Brien for a consultation on your case, at 859-317-2056.

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