Dallas, 06/14/2017 /SubmitPressRelease123/
The regulatory body responsible for the safety of commercial truck driving is called The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In 2016, the agency implemented a controversial requirement that truck carriers install electronic truck driving log books in all of their vehicles, to more accurately log the number of hours drivers spend on the road. And while this may seem like just another regulation, it could end up saving the lives of truck drivers and other drivers on the road.
“The FMCSA really pushed hard to make this requirement a reality,” stated Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Amy Witherite of the personal injury law firm, Eberstein Witherite, LLP. “Commercial driver log books are one of the most effective ways for inspectors to determine whether or not truck operators are adhering to the hours-of-service rules that are designed to prevent exhaustion. The goal with the e-log book requirement is to eliminate any type of cheating, which was a possibility with manual log books.”
Why Do Drivers Need Log Books?
Before discussing the importance of log books, it is important to understand why they are needed in the commercial truck driving industry.
Because truck driving is an occupation that requires a significant amount of time behind the wheel, the FMCSA recognized that it had to set a limit on the number of consecutive hours in which drivers could operate their vehicles.
According to the FMCSA website, hours-of-service rules were designed to limit driving time, and to create mandatory rest stops.
For commercial drivers whose trucks transport goods, the FMCSA stipulates that drivers:
“May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. [Drivers] may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.”
The FMCSA also requires that drivers take a mandatory 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving.
In an article on the Keep Truckin Blog, they specify that the rest break rule is very specific. For example, drivers “can’t take two breaks of, say, 10 minutes and 20 minutes and count it as a 30-minute break.”
However, drivers can conduct non-driving tasks after eight hours of driving without taking a break.
For example, drivers who operate their vehicles for eight hours can go off-duty and perform a truck inspection or catch up on paperwork as long as they do no driving during that time period.
Now, back to the log books. To ensure that drivers comply with these regulations, the FMCSA requires that they fill out log books that detail exactly when they take breaks and when they are back on the road.
This information must be presented to any government or law enforcement official upon inspection of a truck.
The purpose of hours-of-use is to ensure that truck drivers are well rested and alert when they are on duty, which can prevent truck wrecks caused by fatigue or driver inattention.
Mandatory E-Log Books
The issue with log books, however, is that drivers manually enter the information and that leaves the process open to fraud.
Drivers who do not comply with the mandatory rest periods or the mandatory driving times can falsify their logbooks and claim they complied.
Falsification may not occur out of malice, but due to the pressure some drivers feel to make a scheduled delivery after a delay.
This type of fraud can mean that exhausted truck drivers in desperate need of rest are on the road, pushing the limits of their bodies, leading to devastating truck accidents due to loss of focus and concentration, not to mention falling asleep at the wheel.
The FMCSA started to require the use of electronic logbooks to eliminate this problem and all truck carriers must comply by December 2017.
According to an article on Smart Trucking, the new regulation has truck drivers and carriers debating the wisdom of the rule.
For the most part, truck carriers like the rule, because it makes their driving records more accurate and saves them time and money, although the expense of the new system may be a significant burden on smaller carriers.
Some drivers, however, believe that electronic logs are an invasion of privacy and a sign of distrust from their carriers.
The bottom line is that electronic logs cannot be falsified and provide a detailed and running record of a driver’s time behind the wheel.
Ultimately, that could lead to rested drivers who are less likely to cause truck wrecks due to exhaustion.
Keeping Your Life Running
The team at 1-800 Truck-Wreck® understands that there is no foolproof way to prevent truck wrecks. We also understand that once a truck wreck occurs, your life can come to a complete stop.
“Too many personal injury law firms only focus on winning as much money as they can for their clients, and that’s important,” stated Amy Witherite. “But keeping our clients’ lives running is even more important. We want to restore their well being and help them get back on their feet.”