Fulfilling an edict issued by President Obama in his State of The Union address, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed requiring all interstate commercial truck and bus companies to utilize Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to help streamline the government and increase safety. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, said in a press release issued on March 31 by the FMCSA, that the “proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork.”
There are numerous stories of fatigued truck drivers getting involved in accidents that resulted in injury and sometimes death, just because the drivers were being pressured by their company to move a load as quickly as possible. This predicament frequently incentivizes truck drivers to forge how many hours they have been operating on their logbook, or what is called an hours-of-service violation. Through the use of the ELDs, not only will it make it harder for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators to lie on exactly how many hours they have been operating, but as Foxx contends, they will “boost efficiency for motor carriers and safety inspectors.”
However, mandating the usage of ELDs is not the only tactic that FMCSA is employing to fight against fatigued truck drivers. Via the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)-enacted in 2012-a provision to the hours-of-service safety regulations for CMV operators was added. The MAP-21 provision, referred to as the restart provision, allows truck drivers to “start a new cycle” after being off duty for 34 hours, and they “are required to include at least two nighttime periods in their restart breaks,” according to the Washington State University (WSU) Sleep and Performance Research Center.
WSU performed a field study on a sample of 100 truck drivers in order to see if the new hours-of-service regulations were effective at reducing fatigued driving. Their results showed that the drivers now demonstrated a decrease in the amount of lapsed attention and fewer reports of feeling sleepy while driving, according to WSU. WSU concluded that requiring a second nighttime period has allowed the operators to get a full recuperative rest, which allows them to operate more attentively while driving.
It is obvious that the benefits of implementing legislation and proposed legislation such as the revisions in the hours-of-service regulations and the proposal for mandating that truck drivers use ELDs could-and do- prevent them from driving fatigued, hence making the road safer for all drivers.