New proposal aims to reduce driver-related semi crashes

Approximately 20 people are killed and another 434 injured each year in crashes involving semi trucks operated by tired drivers. The trucking industry has a reputation for drivers driving long hours to make deliveries, and the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says this may not be entirely unfounded. Drivers can face intense pressure to deliver loads under pressed time conditions, resulting in speeds and driving durations that may exceed what is safe.

Regulations for record keeping on how far and how long operators drive is in place, but these have long been known to be easily faked. In fact, some of those in the trucking industry refer to these records as “comic books” because they are so easily falsified. It is also not unheard of for truckers to keep two trucking logs, one with the actual log and another that is produced for inspections.

To make it harder to falsify trucking logs and reduce the amount of injuries and fatalities due to tired, overworked drivers, a new proposal was submitted on March 13 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would require commercial buses and trucks that travel across state lines to be outfitted with electronic recording devices. The devices would monitor how many hours vehicles are being driven and would be much harder to tamper with than paper books.

These kinds of devices are already mandated in Europe and several other countries around the world, and many of the larger trucking businesses already use similar devices. However, owner-operators and smaller trucking lines are balking at the change, claiming that the devices may “harass” drivers into driving longer than is safe because it doesn’t take into consideration the weather conditions or traffic. While it normally takes quite a while for these types of proposals to be turned into official laws, it may be a step in the right direction to reduce truck accidents and injuries due to drivers who have simply been on the road too long.

Source: Alabamas13, “Devices to track truck, bus driver hours proposed” Joan Lowy, Associated Press, Mar. 13, 2014

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