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Electronic Logging Devices & Commercial Truck Safety

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.

Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer in DCIn 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.