Truckers Must Electronically Record Their Driving Hours

Dangerously Fatigued Truck Drivers

It’s one step forward and likely one step back in terms of preventing catastrophic truck crashes in this country.

On December 17, the electronic logging device mandate goes into full effect.  On that day, all appropriate commercial truckers must record their hours of service – time spent on the road – in computerized devices.

How does this help prevent fatal commercial truck accidents?  Electronic logging devices should do a better job keeping dangerously tired truck drivers off the road than the previous process.

Truckers Avoiding Driving Hours Regulations

Prior to the ELD mandate, over-the-road truckers were required to log their hours in paper books.  Unscrupulous truck drivers would keep two set of books.  One recorded their actual driving hours.  The other had fudged records to show law enforcement.

The electronic devices record a trucker’s driving hours automatically, seemingly free from truck driver or truck company manipulation.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service Rules dictate how many hours over-the-road truckers can drive each day and each week.  They also mandate rest periods.

What Rules Govern How Long Truckers Can Drive?

These Hours of Service Rules for truck drivers include:

·         Truckers may work no more than 60 hours over seven consecutive days, or 70 hours over eight days

·         Each working period may not start without 10 consecutive non-working hours

·         Following those 10 “off-duty” hours, truckers may work for up to 14 consecutive hours, but can drive no more than 11 hours

·         After beginning work, applicable commercial truck drivers must take a 30-minute rest break no late than eight hours of being on the job

The ELD Mandate was passed in December 2015.  There was a preliminary compliance deadline of December 2017, with soft enforcement.  This month, the federal government drops all extensions and exceptions to the rule.

After December 17, truck drivers without the proper hour-tracking equipment will be declared out of service and pulled off the road for 10 hours.

While the pending full enforcement of the ELD Mandate is good news for truck safety, there could be a related change that dilutes that progress. The Hours of Service Rules may soon be watered down.

These rules were first passed over 70 years ago and most recently revised in 2011.  Predictably, trucking concerns fought that latest round of revisions, which were stricter than previous versions.

Their efforts may have worked.  The federal government this summer proposed changes to these safety trucking measures, including alterations to the resting requirement and the consecutive 14-hour guideline.

The federal government estimates the changes will save $247 million.  Not coincidentally, these changes are supported by the trucking industry.  No word has been provided as to when or if the FMCSA will implement them, but the public comment period passed in October.

Truckers and trucking companies often put their own economic interests ahead of public safety.  The drive to keep fatigued truckers off the road and trucking companies’ efforts to fight it  is the latest example. While fatal truck crashes continue to climb.

If you had a loved one killed or you were seriously hurt in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a lawyer experienced in holding truck companies responsible for their negligence.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog December 10, 2019