Hours-of-service rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are designed to limit the amount of time truckers can drive. The goal of these limits (which prohibit driving for more than 11 hours per day and require a 34-hour rest break after 60 hours of driving in a week) is to prevent drowsy driving crashes. Unfortunately, the rules are often difficult to enforce and truckers still too often drive when they are fatigued.
In an effort to try to make the hours-of-service rules easier to enforce, and thus more effective, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a new proposed rule that would require the use of electronic logbooks for the commercial bus and trucking industry. The FMCSA believes that this would cut down on burdensome paperwork requirements and would help to reduce the risk of truck collisions.
If truckers used electronic logbooks to track their hours, the information from these records could also potentially be used by injured victims who suffer harm in truck collisions.
Currently, when a driver is injured in a collision with a fatigued trucker, the victim may depend upon the trucker’s written logbook, witness statements and the truck driver’s statements in order to prove that the trucker should be held legally liable for the accident. A Boston truck accident lawyer can help victims of fatigued trucking crashes.
Electronic Logbooks Could Make Tracking Hours Easier
Under the current rules, truck drivers are expected to manually keep a log book of their hours in order to ensure that they do not exceed the FMCSA’s rules on drive time. Unfortunately, truckers are not always accurate or honest in keeping their log books.
With a significant shortage of skilled truckers in the United States already, and with this problem expected to become worse, truck drivers may have incentive to lie about the hours they are driving in order to avoid FMCSA rules.
Many professional trucking organizations also expressed dissatisfaction with recent changes to FMCSA rules that require a half-hour break after eight hours of driving and that require two periods in the mandated 34-hour rest break to take place between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Paper logbooks make it possible for drivers to be dishonest about both when and how much they drive.
Electronic logbooks could stop this behavior, and the FMCSA indicates that as many as 20 deaths and 434 injuries from truck accidents each year could be prevented as a direct result of the electronic tracking.
The new proposed rule has broad support from Congress and from safety advocates and carriers, according to an FMCSA spokesperson. The rule, therefore, has a good chance of becoming a new requirement that truckers will need to abide by.
If you were involved in a Boston truck collision, contact Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call today at (617) 777-7777.
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