For years, the FMCSA has required commercial truck drivers to keep track of their driving hours and the hours they spend resting, in manual logbooks. This was to ensure that drivers were complying with the FMCSA’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations that govern how many consecutive hours they can operate their vehicles before taking a rest break.
But the issue with manual logbooks is that it is quite easy for truck drivers to lie on their reports, which allows them to go around FMCSA rules and drive even when they are exhausted.
Because fatigued truck drivers have a much higher likelihood of causing a wreck than drivers who are well-rested, this can have devastating consequences.
Recently, a commercial truck driver based in Philadelphia was sentenced to 18 months in prison for falsifying a logbook in the months prior to causing an accident that killed another driver and seriously injured several others. (2)
The driver in that deadly truck wreck wrote in his logbook that he had been sleeping per FMCSA regulations, when in fact he was still driving. Fatigue was named as one of the major contributing factors in that accident.
Because of this incident, the FMCSA pushed through a proposal that would require all truck carriers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all new vehicles by December 18, 2017.
According to the FMCSA, “an ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.” (3)
This will not only prevent truck drivers from falsifying their logbooks, it will also give truck carriers real-time information about their drivers’ adherence to the proper protocols regarding rest and driving time.
Although there were some fears that the presidential transition would delay the ELD mandate, the Trump administration has shown no signs that it will overrule the proposal, making it highly likely that the pending regulation will go into effect on December 18th. (4)
The speed limiter proposal is a little different, however, because it is still in the discussion phase.
Speed limiters are devices that prevent a vehicle from exceeding a preset speed limit. The FMCSA believes that installing speed limiters in commercial trucks would lower the number of truck wrecks, especially because speed is one of the major contributing factors in these crashes.
However, not everyone is on board with this proposal, and the FMCSA has weakened its position by not establishing a maximum speed limit, proposing limits of 60, 65 and 68 miles per hour. (5)
But some truck organizations believe that the devices would create “speed differentials” that would endanger all motorists.
Speed differentials refer to differences in speeds traveled by vehicles on a roadway that can create conditions for accidents.
This pending truck regulation is scheduled for public debate in 2017, and is far from being approved as law.