In an effort to reduce the occurrence of fatigue among truckers, federal agencies put in place Hours of Service regulations. These regulations limit the number of hours a trucker can drive before taking mandated breaks.
To track these hours, fleets adopted electronic logging devices, or ELDs. The devices were expected to make it easier for drivers to stay in compliance with HOS regulations, thereby reducing accidents. However, a recent report notes that the adoption of ELDs did not have a measurable impact on truck accidents.
Why did accident rates remain unchanged?
The report evaluated data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Researchers determined the number of accidents that occurred before and after ELD adoption were roughly the same.
Researchers believe that one reason for their findings is the increase in unsafe driving behaviors identified after ELD adoption.
The report notes that some drivers engaged in dangerous behaviors like speeding to offset the loss of productivity experienced by having to take breaks. So, while drivers may have been getting in fewer drowsy driving accidents, they were still getting into accidents.
One upside to the report is that HOS violations decreased by more than 51 percent. Further, the introduction of ELDs have made it easier for officials to enforce HOS regulations; electronic logs are far more difficult to falsify than paper logbooks drivers previously used.
But again, while fatigued driving may be decreasing, efforts to counter the restrictions mean there has been little or no improvement in highway safety.
As such, the risk of serious crashes involving semitrucks and other commercial vehicles continues for California motorists. And regardless of whether a drowsy trucker or a reckless trucker causes an accident, the repercussions can be catastrophic. Therefore, victims should know they have legal options to seek accountability and compensation.