The FMCSA mandate concerning electronic log books was first published in December 2015, with the first compliance deadline two years later, in December 2017. This electronic logbook mandate applies to more than three million truck drivers, and there has been serious opposition to the new rule, predictably from the trucking industry. An electronic logbook, also known as an electronic logging device, or ELD, for truckers allows them to easily track their Hours of Service (HOS) to ensure compliance. The electronic logging device is connected to the truck’s engine, recording when the truck is in motion. The truck driver can log in to the system, selecting “on-duty,” “off-duty” or “on-duty not driving.”
The ELD displays a graphic Record of Duty Status, allowing the truck driver to quickly see his or her Hours of Service within any given day. The data gathered from the truck and the truck driver is then transmitted to law enforcement via wireless, USB or Bluetooth. These electronic logging devices range from $165 to $832 annually, with a median cost of about $500 per truck. These ELD devices can also be “untethered” from the cab, allowing truck drivers to take advantage of other mobile apps, along with powerful data analytics. Since the vast majority of truck drivers across the nation often exceed hours of service by keeping two sets of log books—one “real” set, and another set to show law enforcement when stopped—it was expected that the ELD mandate would cost millions more in pay for extra drivers.
Benefits of Electronic Logbooks
The FMCSA estimated paperwork savings per year of about $705 per driver, based on the assumption that each truck driver will save about 19 hours per year with ELDs, plus the time commercial drivers spend forwarding their log books to their carriers. Overall, electronic logbooks are believed to save drivers about 15 minutes per day—not much in the big picture, but the benefits are supposed to go far beyond saving time, by:
- Lowering total crash rates
- Decreasing fuel costs
- Reducing truck down time
- Simplifying regulatory compliance
Trump Administration Offers Truck Drivers a Short Reprieve
The Trump administration took steps to ease truckers into the ELD requirements by extending the compliance date by four months (any truck driver caught without an ELD between December 18th, 2017 through April 1,2018, would be cited, but would be allowed to continue driving. Any violations garnered during this grace period would not go against the carrier’s safety record, with “normal” enforcement of the ELD regulations beginning April 1st. The agricultural industry received a 90-day waiver from the ELD requirements. UPS drivers also received a partial waiver from the mandate.
So, How Do ELDs Improve Safety?
Since an electronic logging device cannot control the truck, it obviously cannot dictate the speed the truck driver drives, following distances, lane changes, or any other actual driving habits. What an ELD can do is let truck drivers—and dispatchers—know exactly how much time is left behind the wheel each day. In turn, this leads to smarter dispatch decisions and drivers who are not routinely exceeding their hours of service, so are not nearly as fatigued. Less fatigued drivers obviously equals fewer accidents, although from the drivers’ point of view, the ELDs cut back their hours, meaning their paycheck also takes a hit. Despite this, the FMCSA released a report done by the Center for Truck and Bus Safety of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute which found that drivers who used electronic logbooks had a significantly lower crash rate—almost 12 percent—than drivers whose trucks were not equipped with electronic logs. All in all, it seems that electronic logbooks are here to stay.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Trucking Accident Lawyers Today
If you have been injured in a trucking accident or someone you love has been injured, it is important to know the complications that could arise. Trucking accidents are often serious and complex. As such, they require a law firm with the resources necessary to tackle these cases. At the Green Law Firm, our Colorado Springs trucking accident lawyers are ready to assist you after a serious accident. Contact the experienced Colorado Springs car accident attorneys at the Green Law Firm today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and discuss your case. Call us today at 1-719-694-8515.