Should Truckers Be Required to Use Electronic Logging Devices?

Some people believe that we live in a society that is greatly overregulated. Both individuals and businesses are required to obtain licenses for everything from driving a car to opening a hot dog stand. Restaurants and bars must obtain licenses to serve food and pour alcohol, and must pass health inspections. You can’t hire an employee without submitting forms to the government. Heck, retailers can’t even sell certain types of allergy medication without keeping records. Adding a room to your own home requires a building permit.

The potential for additional regulation has increased with the evolution of electronics and technology. But while many Americans complain about regulation, there is another side to the coin. Governments often develop and implement regulations in an attempt to protect the public.

In this article, we will consider the potential efficacy of one such regulation: whether truckers should be required to use electronic logging devices when driving semi-trucks.

Federal Regulation and Hours of Service Requirements

In Oregon and across the United States, semi-truck drivers involved in interstate commerce must comply with federal trucking regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues these regulations, publishing them first in the Federal Register, and then in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Some regulations that have received much debate through the years are called “hours of service” regulations. These rules describe how many hours a truck driver may drive before resting. The regulations further govern the amount of time that the truck driver must rest before driving again.

Through the years, truck drivers and trucking companies have sometimes complained about hours of service regulations because they limit the hours the truck driver can work, thereby limiting the amount of money the trucker and the trucking company can earn in a given time period. Drivers argue that, like other workers, they should determine when to work.

However, numerous studies have demonstrated that tired drivers are far more likely to cause and be involved in motor vehicle crashes. Therefore, the government decided that the hours of service limitations were necessary to protect the motoring public.

What Are Electronic Logging Devices and How Are They Related to Hours of Service?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is a relatively small electronic device that is attached to a truck. It is synchronized with the truck’s engine, allowing it to record driving time for the purpose of tracking hours of service.

The law requires most semi-truck drivers to use ELDs, which must come from a list of approved electronic logging devices issued by the FMCSA. According to the agency, well-designed, properly used ELDs allow safety officials to better track hours of service (HOS), which will help prevent both deliberate and inadvertent violations of the requirements.

Not only does the rule require that ELDs be used, but they must also be tamper-resistant. The agency states that this portion of the rule is actually designed to protect truck drivers, who could otherwise potentially be coerced by motor carriers to change the recorded information to conceal their duty status.

The agency concludes that the regulation will increase compliance with laws designed to prevent driver fatigue, thereby having a positive effect on the physical condition of drivers. This, in turn, should lead to safer driving and fewer accidents.

Call with Questions

When it comes to interstate trucking, there’s no doubt that regulation is a good thing. It is intended to protect everyone from safety shortcuts that might otherwise be taken by some trucking companies and drivers.

But sometimes regulation is not enough. Often, legal action is the only way a wrongdoer can be held accountable.

If you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer truck or other vehicle, please feel free to call Nelson MacNeil Rayfield with your questions. Our experienced trucking lawyers are familiar with all the federal regulations that trucking companies and their drivers are required to follow. We can help you investigate your claim and determine your rights.


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