There are laws in place to prevent truck accidents that rely on the use of driver logs to determine how long a driver has been on the road to reduce driver fatigue. In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration adopted a Final Rule that requires the switch from paper logs to electronic logging devices. According to FMCSA, this is to make it easier for inspectors to discover any violations of federal law.
There are guidelines in place to prevent the data from being used improperly, including any harassment that might stem from the information on the ELDs. Additionally ,there are guidelines in place to streamline the paperwork and reduce the number of supporting documents needed, including those that verify any hours-of-service or on-duty driving time.
The ruling also includes specifications for manufacturers to follow when designing a device to comply with the ruling. Smartphones and similar wireless devices can be used as the logs, as long as it abides by certain criteria. Bus drivers and commercial truck drivers have two years to start utilizing one of the approved ELDs.
The ELD work by taking in data from the miles driven, location information, vehicle movement and engine hours to automatically record a drivers’ time on the road. It is expected to prevent 562 injuries and avoid 26 fatalities associated with accidents involving trucks. It will also make reviewing records more efficient and reduce the amount of industry paperwork, saving around $1 billion.
According to Transport Topics, the ruling met with contention from the drivers. The Owner-Operator Independent Driving Association officially challenged this ruling in March 2016 by submitting a claim with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The FMCSA responded with a brief refuting the claims in June 2016. Among the critiques, OOIDA does not believe the use of ELDs will improve safety. However, FMCSA feels that the logs reduce the ability for drivers to falsify records, improve compliance and reduce accidents.