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New FMCSA Regulations Require Electronic Logging Devices in Commercial Trucks and Buses

Electronic Logging Devices

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the governmental agency in charge of regulating the number of hours certain truck and bus drivers may operate. The hours-of-service regulations are an attempt to prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel and potentially injuring themselves or others. Shocking statistics verify how often fatigued drivers are often the cause of truck and bus accidents. Adhering to the hours-of-service regulations mandated by the FMCSA is critical in protecting the driving public.

Hours-of-service rules vary depending on a number of factors. For instance, the rules vary depending on the type of vehicle and what is being transported. The rules limit the amount of hours a driver can remain on-duty and the actual number of hours a driver can spend driving. The rules further require drivers to take adequate breaks and off-duty rest periods.

After tractor trailer or bus accident, it’s common to discover the driver was operating in violation of the hours-of-service law. The problem is partly fueled by employers that incentivize drivers to continuously push the boundaries to increase profits.

FMCSA Regulation Requiring Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

In December 2015, the FMCSA announced that the commercial truck and bus industries will be required to employ electronic logging devices (ELDs) in vehicles to ensure drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service laws. This measure is in large part to help prevent fatigued drivers from operating on our roadways. Companies will have two to four years, depending on the type of logging method they currently utilize, to adopt and implement these new technologies. Canadian and Mexican domiciled drivers operating in the U.S. will also be expected to comply with the new regulations.

Currently, drivers log their hours in one of three ways:

  1. Traditional, complex log books with paper and pen
  2. Laptops and smartphones with logging software
  3. Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs)

What is the difference between an ELD and an AOBRD?

An AOBRD is a modern electronic way of logging a driver’s hours, but an ELD will take it a step further and is capable of syncing to the vehicle’s engine.
ELDs automatically monitor:

  • Hours driven or time the engine runs
  • Miles travelled
  • Vehicle speed
  • Location and motion of the vehicle
  • Date and time
  • Driver, carrier, and vehicle identification information

Overall, an ELD must be registered with the FMCSA to ensure the device complies with the new regulation, while AOBRDs will no longer be an acceptable form of logging hours as a result of the new mandate.

Without the new requirement of ELDs in trucks and buses, it is impossible to guarantee honesty and verify drivers are abiding by the on-duty/off-duty requirements mandated by law. The new ELDs are also expected to aid collision safety inspectors to uncover drivers who violate federal regulations and place drivers’ lives at risk.

Roadside Inspections

If drivers are subject to a roadside inspection, they will be required to transfer their ELD records from the last seven days to the safety inspector via email, website, thumb drive, or Bluetooth. If the inspector requests supporting documents such as GPS records or driving schedules, the driver must provide them.

Overall Benefits of ELDs

  • According to the FMCSA’s statistics, this new technology is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries annually.
  • It will now be easier for logging systems to be in compliance because traditional paper logs will no longer be needed.
  • Both deliberate incorrect logging and human error will be eliminated since the new systems are automatic.
  • Auditing will be more streamlined, and logs will be easily accessed by inspectors.
  • The information that ELDs automatically produce will be valuable for litigation purposes.

Implementation Timeline

  • Carriers that use paper logs or logging software will be required to have ELDs by December 18, 2017.
  • Carriers that use AOBRDs will have until December 16, 2019 to employ and implement these ELDs.

In the meantime, not all truck and bus companies are utilizing this technology. If you are in an accident with a large, commercial truck or bus it is important to look into whether the driver was violating hours-of-service laws. Victims of truck and bus accidents will want to consult a truck accident attorney in St. Louis to investigate whether the carrier and driver were complying with the new ELD regulation.

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