It’s been more than two years since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began mandating electronic logging devices (ELD) on large commercial trucks. The purpose of ELDs is to prevent truck drivers from inaccurately logging the number of hours spent on the road.
The mandate was passed in conjunction with the federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations, which were established to help prevent drowsy driving truck crashes – which is a common cause of truck crashes.
Under the HOS rule, truck drivers may not work more than 60 hours per seven consecutive days or 70 hours per eight consecutive days. Driving time per shift is limited to 11 hours, but drivers may stay on duty for up to 14 hours after 10 hours off duty.
Have these federal regulations curbed violations?
According to an article in Heavy Duty Trucking, some truckers still continue to violate the ELD mandate.
The article cites data from the FMCSA, which shows that the percentage of driver inspections with at least one HOS violation dropped from 1.3 percent in December 2017 to 0.69 percent in April 2018, then to 0.57 percent in June 2019.
When it comes to ELD compliance, however, there hasn’t been a significant reduction in violations. The most common ELD violations found during roadside inspections include:
- Failure to maintain ELD paperwork, like instruction manuals, data transfer instructions and blank paper logs.
- Failure to produce ELD records when requested
- Improper mounting of portable ELD
- Lack of documentation for unassigned driving or hours
Why is it critical that truck drivers comply with federal regulations?
Truck drivers spend more time on the road than most people. Therefore, they are more prone to dozing off while driving.
Large commercial trucks require a great deal of training and experience to safely operate. Since these massive vehicles can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs. when fully loaded, there is no room for error.
EHS Today cited a truck crash that occurred in the summer of 2019. The driver of a semi-tractor trailer truck reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel, causing the northbound truck to cross a grassy median, cross into the southbound lane, and crash into a guardrail.
The truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of a pickup truck was struck in the accident and sustained serious injuries.
Investigators found no evidence that the driver tried to correct steering or attempt to stop. Unconsciousness due to a medical event was ruled out.
EHS Today stated that the trucker was driving on a dark, uncluttered road on a muggy morning and that this was as a contributing factor in the crash – when combined with the repetitive nature of operating a large truck.
It was unclear, however, if the conditions and nature of the job was the cause of drowsiness as opposed to lack of sleep. What we do know is that negligence on part of the driver resulted in the crash.
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