The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will now require bus and truck drivers to record all hours spent behind the wheel electronically rather than on paper. This new government rule, designed to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, addresses a number of problems with drivers failing to abide by hours of service requirements by keeping two separate logs or through the manipulation of paper logs. Vehicles will now need to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) installed in order to automatically record the time spent driving. The device records driving time by monitoring vehicle movement, miles driven, location information, and engine hours.
Drivers from Canada and Mexico who drive on U.S. roadways will also be required to comply. Tow truck drivers, drivers who record their hours using time cards, and drivers who operate trucks and buses older than the 2000 model year are currently exempt from this new regulation.
Having just gone into effect this month, companies will have twenty-four months to comply. Under certain conditions and pending the approval of the FMCSA, hours may be recorded using a smart phone or other wireless device in lieu of the ELD.
ELD technology is expected to help roadside safety inspectors uncover dangerous violations of the law, and is expected to save at least $1 billion annually by eliminating paperwork. Critics feel that the new rule is unnecessary and expensive, saying that the expense involved will only make existing industry problems worse (like the massive truck driver shortage, for example). However, this new regulation is largely agreed to be long overdue, and expect a positive impact on road safety.
Truck accidents cause more than 3,500 deaths every year, many of which result when fatigued drivers fail to take their required rest breaks. Use of the new electronic logging devices is expected to save more than 26 lives per year and prevent more than 560 injuries.
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