In the aftermath of any devastating truck accident, one of the first items that must be secured and examined is always the trucker’s logbook. That’s because it can provide valuable insight into whether the trucker violated the applicable hours of service regulations and was potentially driving while fatigued. It can also help establish whether the trucker falsified an entry.
Interestingly, an impending rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandating what are known as electronic logging devices may serve to make this exercise much easier and perhaps even unnecessary given its potential impact on road safety.
What is an electronic logging device?
An electronic logging device — or ELD — is a computerized device that synchs with a truck engine to automatically record times, dates, locations, vehicle miles and engine hours.
In addition to allowing truckers to select their status (on-duty, off-duty, on-duty not driving, etc.) and easily view the number of hours they’ve driven, it also obviates the need to keep and maintain paper log books.
What does the new rule mandate?
Under the rule, which takes effect December 18, 2017, all truckers otherwise required to maintain records relating to hours of service will be required to use ELDs. The only exception being those truckers who are engaged in towing and drive-away operations, maintain duty status records in 8 or less days out of every 30 working days, and driving vehicles manufactured before 2000.
Why did the FMCSA introduce this rule?
According to the agency, the ELD mandate will save the trucking industry upwards of $1 billion per year, largely on time and money related to paperwork. More significantly, it predicts that it will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries per year.
How has the ELD mandate been received?
While some key players in the trucking industry have embraced the ELD mandate, others were vehemently opposed. Indeed, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit back in March on behalf of two truckers, arguing that the ELD mandate must be overturned given that it violated privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment, and was both arbitrary and capricious.
In a decision issued earlier this week, however, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected these arguments and unanimously ruled to keep the ELD mandate in place. It remains to be seen whether the OOIDA will appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Here’s hoping that the FMCSA’s predictions about the ELD mandate lowering truck accident injuries and fatalities prove to be a reality.