A relatively new federal safety regulation to keep tired truck drivers off the road was found to be working in one respect, but not accomplishing its main goal: preventing commercial truck crashes.
Driving a commercial truck, especially long-haul trucking, can be exhausting. Long trips challenge the body and the mind.
Federal Hours of Service rules have existed for many years. Their objective is to make sure truckers get proper rest so they are mentally and physically sharp behind the wheel. Fatigued truck drivers have caused catastrophic accidents.
Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules
Provisions of the HOS rules include:
· Truck drivers cannot drive after 60 hours over seven consecutive days
· Truck drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off the job
· Truck drivers must rest for 30 minutes after driving eight hours
Truck drivers record their driving and rest periods for law enforcement to check. Up until a few years ago, truckers used paper log books – which are easily falsified – to record their resting and driving times.
In December 2017 the federal government enacted the Electronic Logging Device mandate, requiring drivers to ditch the paper log books in favor of computerized devices. The assumption was that more truckers would adhere to the HOS rules since they no longer had an easy workaround.
And if more truckers were getting more rest there would be fewer fatal truck accidents.
Last year researchers examined the effects of the ELD mandate. They concluded it was not working as intended; in fact, just the opposite. They documented an increase in truck crashes following the ELD mandate.
The study (“Unintended Responses To IT-Enabled Monitoring: The Case of the Electronic Logging Device Mandate”) was published July 2020 by the Journal of Operations Management.
Using federal data, the study identified the mandate’s impact on three truck-safety issues:
· How well truck drivers adhered to the federal regulation
· The number of truck crashes since the ELD mandate went into effect
· Frequency of unsafe truck driving behavior following the ELD mandate
More Speeding Truck Drivers Increase Crashes
Researchers determined the mandate has more truck drivers honestly reporting their service hours. This is particularly true of smaller fleet operations, as most large ones – companies with more than 50,000 trucks – already were using electronic logging devices.
However, they also determined the number of truck accidents increased since the ELD mandate, especially by small carriers. Companies with two to 20 trucks, for example, saw a 9% increase in truck crashes.
By examining driving infractions, the researchers concluded that unsafe truck driver behavior increased as well. The increase was greater for the smaller trucking companies that were not using electronic logging devices prior to the mandate.
The ELD mandate forces truck drivers to adhere to safer driving limits, but more of them are driving faster to meet work demands. Researchers concluded that this rise in unsafe truck driving – such as speeding – caused the increase in truck crashes.
If you lost a loved one in a crash with a commercial truck, an experienced truck accident attorney can investigate on your behalf to determine if speeding, fatigue or other careless truck driver behavior was responsible.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog January 5, 2022