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Truck and bus drivers must use electronic logging devices (ELDs) by 2017

FMSCA final rule will prevent truck accidents by manipulation of paper log books

electronic logging device, image

The FMSCA recently announced an important safety rule requiring all commercial trucks and buses to record their driving history electronically.

This has been a major safety push for years.  I can remember being president of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Group in 2007 and 2008 and pushing regulators and politicians to adopt electronic logs.

The reason is that manipulation of paper log books, or “lie books” as they are often derisively referred to, is far too common.  Truckers driving over hours and violating hours of service guidelines has been a cause of many of the truck accidents I’ve litigated, such as in the Jackson County case of Fairley v. Schiber Truck Co, where I reviewed these violations in front of the jury during trial.

As of December 18, 2017, this new safety rule will be the law of the land.  It will replace automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) with ELDs over a four-year implementation period.

The law includes the period allowing for compliance, but there’s no going back and this will help truckers and everyone who shares the roads with big commercial trucks and buses. No longer will truckers be tempted to drive more than their maximum regulated hours by falsifying their paper log books. There will be fewer fatigued truckers on the road.

Here’s a summary of the rule:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amends the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to establish: Minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logging devices (ELDs); requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS); requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs. The requirements for ELDs will improve compliance with the HOS rules.

And here’s a PDF of the full rule from the FMSCA.

In other words, electronic logging devices will replace on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers that are traditionally recorded by pencil and paper. ELDs will automatically record driving time. They can also monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information.

Experienced truck attorneys know to always review log books as they could be easily falsified to reflect compliance with the rules. Truck drivers would often have two sets of paper books: One to reflect the lies and another to reflect how many hours they really drove in order to get loads to their destinations quicker and turn over higher profits – all while sacrificing rest and public safety.

The ELD Final Rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles, according to the FMSCA.

This is a win for attorneys who litigate truck accident lawsuits and the American driving public.

Related info:

What are the hours of service rules for truckers?

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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