Despite hours-of-service rules that limit how long semi-truck drivers can stay on the road, many truck operators keep driving long after the law requires them to stop and rest. A new rule set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to reduce the number of fatigue-related truck accidents by requiring commercial drivers to use electronic logbooks – also knowns as e-logs or electronic hours of service recorders (EHSRs).
Although the DOT stated previously that the final rules would not be published until 2016, the agency has moved the rule publication date up to September 30, 2015.
Hours-of-Service Rules for Commercial Operators
Set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), hours-of-service rules limit commercial drivers to 11 hours behind the wheel per day. Semi-truck operators are also required to take a 34-hour break after 60 hours of driving.
Despite these rules, old-fashioned paper logbooks made it easy for operators and carriers to report inaccurate numbers. In many cases, carriers pressure their drivers to violate hours-of-service rules in the interest of making better time, making more deliveries, and increasing profits.
The new e-log rule seeks to cut down on inaccurate hours-of-service reporting. Once the new rule goes into effect in September, operators and carriers will have two years to comply with the e-log requirements.
The FMCSA released a study that found a reduction in crashes when “electronic hours-of-service recorders” are installed in commercial vehicles. The agency stated that “the results show a clear safety benefit, in terms of crash and HOS violations reductions, for trucks equipped with EHSRs.” The study results showed an 11.7 percent reduction in crashes. Vehicles equipped with EHSRs in the study also had a 53 percent lower hours-of-service violation rate.
In addition to reducing hours-of-service violations, the FMCSA states that e-logs will save over $300 million per year in safety benefits.
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