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Big rig safety mandates may be largely ineffective

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2020 | Firm News

Drivers on Texas highways share the roads with commercial truck drivers and expect them to comport themselves in a professional, responsible manner. This includes obeying the rules of the road as well as special regulations put in place to keep truckers and passenger vehicle drivers healthy and safe.

Driver fatigue is a well-known cause for many fatal truck accidents, and the entry of electronic logging devices (ELDs) should have been the solution. However, according to TruckingInfo, there has not been any conclusive proof that accident rates have gone down since the use of ELDs was widely implemented.

What is the ELD mandate?

In December 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandated the use of ELDs in commercial trucks in an attempt to limit violations of hours of service (HOS) regulations. ELDs make it impossible for truckers to adjust their driving logs. Therefore, they must adhere to the strict guidelines set by the FMCSA that limit the hours that truckers can drive. In combination with rules that state how long truckers must rest in between on-duty shifts, the goal was to decrease the number of truck accidents by reducing driver fatigue.

Are violations decreasing?

Since the ELD mandate went into effect, HOS violations decreased by a significant amount. Even owner-operators, who fought hardest against the mandate, are driving in line with HOS regulations.

Yet, the steady rate of truck accidents since the mandate does not seem to reflect this improvement in safety compliance. This may be because those same owner-operators are now disregarding other safety regulations, including an increase in speeding violations by over 30%. The increase suggests that truckers attempt to make up for lost time by simply driving faster.

Furthermore, speeding makes the roads more dangerous, according to the FCMSA. The most recent publication of Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts singles out driving at unsafe speeds as the most frequent driver-related cause of large truck crashes.