By: Allan M. Siegel
Tractor-tailors and other commercial vehicles pose many dangers to the
general public. Because these massive machines share the roads and highways
with smaller passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians,
state and federal governments take many measures to ensure they are as
safe as possible and that trucking companies and truck drivers are operating
as safely as they can in order to reduce risks of preventable truck accidents.
Among the many federal regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration (FMCSA), mandatory use of electronic logging devices
(ELDs) are among the most important. These electronic logging devices
are intended to help enforce FMCSA Hours-of-Service rules, which are designed
to reduce crash risks posed by tired, fatigued, and overworked drivers.
In recent years, there has been ample evidence to suggest that driving
tried substantially increases risks of accidents. In fact, many
studies have noted that driving tired, especially when a driver has missed 2-3
hours of sleep or more, is comparable to the risks of driving while under
the influence of alcohol at or above the legal limit. Even missing 1 –
2 hours of sleep in a day can double a driver’s risk of causing a crash.
Because the dangers of tired driving have become well known, and because
truckers have been notorious for working long and unusual hours, the FMCSA
developed Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules to prevent truckers from being
behind the wheel for too long. These regulations also enforce when and
for how long truck drivers should take breaks.
Although HOS have been in place for some time, many truck drivers and trucking
companies continued to disobey them, often in their attempts to maximize
profitability. One notable truck wreck involving comedian
Tracy Morgan was caused by a truck driver who had been awake for more than 24 hours
at the time of the collision. That driver was later held accountable for
driving while fatigued and also faced criminal charges for his actions.
In response to these issues, the FMCSA
recently implemented the use of electronic logging devices for commercial carriers that engage
in interstate travel. These devices, which were implemented for certain
types of commercial carriers in 2015, record the amount of time a vehicle
is in motion and at what times it is in motion in order to ensure drivers
are complying with Hours-of-Service rules mandating rest breaks.
Electronic logging devices were designed as a more efficient and accurate
alternative to paper driving logs, which drivers and trucking companies
used to keep by hand. These paper logs could be easily forged or falsified
to make it appear that truckers were abiding by the Hours-of-Service rules,
when in fact they were not. This created complications for enforcement
of regulations and in some cases, disastrous consequences for victims
of preventable wrecks.
In addition to helping federal regulators ensure that truckers are abiding
by the law, electronic logging devices are also useful in cases where
victims and families harmed in
truck accidents file personal injury or wrongful death claims in order to recover financial
compensation for their damages. These devices can provide an objective
measurement of when a trucker was on the road and whether they took appropriate
and sufficient rest breaks as required by law.
By evaluating electronic logging devices as part of a thorough investigation
into a crash, our Washington, DC truck accident lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman,
Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. can help victims determine if driver fatigue
or Hours-of-Service regulations played a role in causing their collision
and subsequent injuries. Trucking companies and drivers have a legal duty
to abide by federal regulations, and they must operate safely. When they
fail to do so, and cause injuries as a result, victims and families have
the right to hold them accountable for their negligence and financially
liable for the damages they suffered, which may include medical bills,
pain and suffering, emotional injuries, lost work wages, and more.
If you or someone you love was recently involved in a truck accident, even
if you are unsure of the underlying cause, our team of proven truck accident
attorneys is here to help you better understand your legal rights and
how we may be able to help you further investigate the incident and fight
for the compensation you deserve. Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel,
P.C. has recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of truck
accident victims across Maryland, Virginia, and DC. We are prepared to
provide the experience, resources, and support you need to navigate the
legal journey ahead.
To discuss your case personally with a member of our team,
contact us today for a FREE consultation.