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Will mandatory electronic logs increase trucking safety?

Within the next two years, commercial trucking and bus companies will have to install electronic logging devices in their vehicles. This new rule was released late in 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The goal of the ELDs, which will be replacing paper logs still kept by many commercial drivers, is to reduce the number of accidents involving these large vehicles. Electronic logs, unlike paper log books, cannot be altered. That means that drivers won't be able to drive longer than the time regulated by federal law and will have to take the required rest periods.

Since driver fatigue is a well-known cause of fatal commercial vehicle accidents, the FMCSA hopes that the number of accidents and fatalities on America's roads will be reduced. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted, "This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk."

Some 80 percent of victims of crashes involving large trucks in 2013 were not truck drivers, but people on or in other types of vehicles or pedestrians. Besides the obvious safety factor, the government believes that these ELDs will save trucking companies money because they'll reduce the amount of paperwork involved in the industry.

Only time will tell how much the mandatory ELDs improve safety on America's roads. Of course, even if they cut down on fatigued driving, there are a number of other reasons for crashes involving trucks and other commercial vehicles. It's essential if your or a loved one have been a victim in one of these accidents to determine which individuals and companies bear responsibility for the crash.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Truthful truckers: An electronic log could reduce accidents," Jan. 03, 2016

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