Drowsy truck driving is a serious problem nationwide. The issue made headlines recently when the driver of a Wal-Mart truck who had been awake for 24-hours caused a truck accident that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan. This accident is far from the only one in which a fatigued truck driver caused a devastating outcome to occur. New York Times also reported on a tragic incident in which a 76-year-old truck driver had been driving for 11 hours before he dozed off behind the wheel and kills 10 people on the Will Rogers Turnpike.
Federal authorities have been fighting for decades to try to prevent accidents like these, which are far more common than most people realize. The efforts of the regulators have been met with resistance because, as the Times indicates, the trucking business " lives by the clock," so "miles mean money."
There are serious concerns about regulations that resistance on the part of truckers sometimes takes the form of not following hours-of-service rules aimed at prevention of truck accidents. To address these concerns, a new mandate is going into effect in December of 2017 which will require electronic logging in trucks.
The Electronic Logging Mandate
The electronic logging mandate is meant to ensure truck drivers abide by hours-of-service rules. Hours of service rules were put into place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The rules limit daily hours driven and limit weekly hours driven, limit daily hours on duty, and require mandatory 30 minute breaks for most truck drivers following eight hours of driving.
The rules have been fought by the trucking industry since day one, and truckers were successfully able to get congress to alter one Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) mandate which required two periods of resting overnight during a mandate 34-hour break after maximum weekly hours had been driven. Of those regulations still in effect, enforcement requires truckers to track their hours-on-duty to ensure they are in compliance. Many truckers truck their hours manually using paper logs, which are of course vulnerable to manipulation. New rules will put an end to this by requiring electronic logging.
The electronic logging rule was promulgated in December of 2015 and requires truckers to install electronic logging devices in their vehicles by December of 2017. While small truckers have expressed concerns about costs, FMCSA says the logging devices will save the industry around a billion dollars due to decreased paperwork requirements. Many large trucking companies already use these electronic logging devices.
FMCSA also suggests the rule will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries in truck accidents caused by fatigued truckers. Saving lives and preventing individuals and families from being forced to cope with the effects of serious injuries caused in a trucking accident is of vital importance, and the rule cannot go into effect soon enough.