Since 1938, the laws governing how commercial truck drivers keep track of their hours worked has remained essentially identical: Drivers keep track of their time on a piece of paper, turned in to their employers at regular intervals. Since that time, great advances have occurred in available technology to track miles driven and to keep employees’ time, and many trucking companies have adopted those technologies out of convenience. Finally, the government’s trucking rules have caught up with modern technology, and have changed to require commercial truck drivers to use electronic, rather than paper, logs.
For years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has discussed changing the law to require electronic logs, but the rule kept stalling for various reasons. The end of 2015 saw a number of updates to the federal rules governing commercial truck drivers, however, including the long-awaited transition to electronic logs. The rule requiring electronic logs goes into effect in February of this year, though commercial trucking fleets have until December of 2017 to ensure that all their trucks are compliant.
The electronic driving logs will have to comply with a number of regulations under the new rule. The log will need to be able to be connected to the truck’s onboard computer, so that it can accurately record when a driver begins and ends a shift. The logs will need to be able to record the number of hours the driver worked, the number of miles driven, the driver’s speed, GPS locations of the driver throughout the shift, and any stops made. The logs will also need to produce data in a format that can be easily read by others, and will need to be able to transmit that data wirelessly, via Bluetooth, or via a USB port.
This change has made safety advocates happy for a number of reasons. Most significantly, using an electronic log will make the logs far less falsifiable. As it stands now, drivers may succumb to pressure from employers to complete a run quickly and go over the legally-permitted length of a shift, but write down a compliant number on their log sheet to avoid getting their employer in trouble with the FMSCA. Now, drivers will have little choice but to comply with the limits imposed to keep fatigued drivers off the road, which will hopefully reduce the rate of serious truck accident injuries. Additionally, law enforcement will be able to see instantly if a driver has been on the road too long, and to pull that driver off the road if that is the case, rather than encountering an uncompleted paper log entry.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident in the Pensacola, Florida, or Mobile, Alabama area, contact the skilled and compassionate attorneys at Whibbs Stone Barnett for a free consultation on your possible truck accident lawsuit, at 888-219-4561.