BUFFALO, N.Y. – If you’ve ever been sleepy behind the wheel, you know how dangerous fatigued driving can be. For those who work on the highway, fatigue can be a common enemy but a new law is aimed at enforcing regulations that were created to prevent drivers from driving under the stress of sleep.
Unfortunately, thousands of Americans ignore common sense and keep driving despite their body telling them to turn-in for the night. The problem is particularly dangerous in the trucking industry – where drivers often log over 11 hours each day while at the helm of a truck weighing up to 40 tons.
Beginning this year, commercial truck drivers and bus drivers will be using electronic devices to log their hours behind the wheel.
Buffalo truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes hope the new law will make the roads safer.
“Many big rig crashes occur because the driver was fatigued,” Buffalo truck accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Now that some commercial drivers will be required to log their hours electronically, it could the number of serious and deadly collisions.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the logs are more difficult to tamper with and the electronic devices could provide a net savings of $1 billion each year. The administration estimated that electronic logs could prevent hundreds of truck crashes, saving dozens of lives and prevent hundreds of injuries.
Many high-profile truck crashes have been linked back to a fatigued driver. In August, federal regulators said a truck driver had been driving for 28 hours straight before a crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger.
“Truck drivers have been using pen and paper to log their hours since the 1930’s,” Barnes said. “With electronic logging devices, drive time will automatically be logged by monitoring the number of miles driven and the amount of time the driver is behind the wheel – it’s just more accurate and it could save lives.”
Although the rules may seem new, the battle for electronic recording devices dates back to 1995 when Congress ordered the Department of Transportation to develop electronic logs. However, the FMCSA didn’t make changes until a lawsuit forced the administration to place heavy limits on trucker hours in 2004.
Many drivers have opposed efforts to require electronic logging devices. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association sued the FMCSA in an effort to block the new regulation citing on its website, “The need for truckers to spend money on an unproven technology that is no more effective than paper logs when it comes to safety and hours-of-service compliance.”
Companies will have two years to begin using electronic logs although many trucking organizations have already implemented the technology.