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How Electronic Logging Devices, Job Surveillance Are Changing U.S. Trucking

By: Dan Hausman

One of the main reasons I became a high school social studies teacher was because of my curiosity about the past and how that informs what may occur in the future. The impact of technology on the way humans act is one of the topics that most interested me because technology has been a driving factor in human progress. As an attorney for a firm which represents people in automobile crashes, my interest in technology has become more focused on issues in transportation.

Electronic Logging Devices

Electronic Logging Devices (“ELD”) is one such technology. These devices monitor a truck driver’s location, driving status, speed, and also the amount of time a driver has been on the road. The proponents of ELDs point to increased safety as the main benefit of the technology. However, many truckers don’t think the ELDs will necessarily lead to safer roads.

By law, and specifically trucking Hours-of-Service regulations, truckers are allowed to be on the road for 11 hours (with a mandated break) and can do an additional 3 hours of non-driving work before they must rest for ten hours. The interesting thing about the ELD is that it makes tracking adherence to the laws, which have been on the books in some form since 1938, easier. In the past, truckers had a paper and pencil log book that could be easily fudged. With ELDs, fudging won’t be so easy.

Frankly, the laws make sense in that statistics show that the risk of a crash nearly doubles once a trucker has been on the road for over ten hours. On the other hand, the strict adherence to the law takes decision making out of the trucker’s hands. Truckers may feel extremely tired within their 11 hours of allotted drive time but don’t want to pull over because they would be wasting time they can be using to make money. This can lead to preventable crashes.

Beyond the safety issue, another extremely interesting thing about the ELDs is that it shows how people react when their jobs are threatened by technology. People who have spent their lives in a particular career are generally experts at their jobs and are resistant to technological changes that lessen the need for their expertise. This is easily noticed in the protests against ELDs by many trucker organizations who believe that ELDs are the first step toward a fully automated trucking industry, which we've blogged about in the past.

This video provides a brief breakdown about ELDs, automation, and other advancements are changing trucking in the United States.

My take away from looking into ELD technology is that its ramifications are very complicated. What I once thought was a win-win for everyone turns out to be more complex. I will monitor technological advances in the trucking industry and transportation as a whole and will continue to write about the subject.

If you want to know more about trucking advances or have been injured in a crash involving a truck, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. can help. Our attorneys have represented many victims and families following commercial truck accidents. Call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online to request a free case evaluation.