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New Trucking Technology Looks to Diminish Truck Driver Fatigue Accidents

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Business is booming in the trucking industry, but it has come at a price. Trucking fatalities are on the rise as fatal crashes increased by 3.1 percent from 2011 to 2012 with driver fatigue being the clear leading cause. The use of paper logs to register hours of service and duty status has become outdated and easily manipulated so new federal legislation has hoped to remedy such practices by mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). When the final ELD rule is published at the end of 2015, the over 3 million truckers currently using paper logs to record duty status will have until the end of 2017 to comply with the ELD mandate.

ELDs synchronize with the engine, driver's identification data, the date, time, and location of the commercial motor vehicle at each change of duty status, the carrier, and other particulars of the transport in order to accurately reflect regulation time limits. Ideally this hyper accurate documentation of driving times can reduce fatigue in drivers overstepping their limits and lead to less accidents. Regulations limit driving time to a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of duty, but this is frequently abused. In a data set assessing the safety benefits of ELDs, the electronic recording vehicles demonstrated a 53 percent lower driving-related hours of service (HOS) violation rate and a 49 percent lower non-driving HOS violation rate than trucks using manual logs. Projections have estimated that 1,425 to 1,714 crashes will be avoided per year. Despite these favorable safety statistics, trucking executives have deemed these initiatives as "regulatory drag", implying an interference with profits.

As long as drivers continue to be paid by the mile, driver fatigue will be a huge problem for the industry. A study by the Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research demonstrated that drivers who have been awake for 24 straight hours have an equivalent performance of a person with a blood alcohol level of .10 grams, above the legal limit. These hours can reach these absurd heights due to the industry's mileage pay system. ELDs can and should be a significant factor in improving general safety, but it is overall an issue of industry practice.

Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at (713) 222-7211.

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