Since April 1, all trucks on the road are required to use electronic logs to record actual hours on duty. This new regulation was implemented because the old paper logs were routinely falsified. Truckers used to spend far more hours on the road than what was considered safe, resulting in fatigue and accidents.
With this new law, truckers are indeed spending fewer hours behind the wheel. Statistics are not yet in showing how much safer this has made the roads, however. If you or a loved one have been in an accident involving a truck, those logs are important information for your case to see if the truck was indeed on the road longer than the law allows.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) limits drivers to no more than 11 hours in a 14 hour shift. After that shift, they are required to take off at least 10 hours before returning to the road. This now has to be verified by an electronic log connected directly to the truck itself.
That is still a lot of time on the road, and fatigue is still an issue. Truckers have a hard job and a lot of pressure to deliver. With the requirement that the electronic log be attached, however, we at least know exactly how long each truck and driver have been on the road when there is an accident.
Since electronic logs were implemented, we know that drivers are following the rules much more carefully. According to one survey, 67% of all truckers say they are driving less than they did before. Since most logs are showing that they are hitting the full hours allowed, that means they were over the limit before.
Despite this, any truck you see on the road could have been driving for a full 11 hours. That is still a potentially dangerous amount of time. Fatigue is still potentially an issue. A study by the FMSCA in 2011 showed that 87% of all truck accidents were blamed on driver error, with fatigue being the major cause of those mistakes.
Accidents still happen
While we all hope that the rate of accidents involving trucks is coming down, it’s still far too early to tell. Accidents involving a truck are often devastating, since a big rig can cause a lot of damage even at relatively low speeds.
If you or a loved one have been in an accident with a truck, there are probably very serious injuries involved. It’s vitally important that you have an attorney with experience dealing with these issues on your side as you work through and fight with insurance companies.
With electronic logs, we now have an accurate read on how long the driver has been on the road. That can help your case. Understanding those logs and requesting them is one reason why experience counts when getting proper compensation for victims of accidents with trucks.