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FMCSA proposes to make ELDs mandatory for commercial trucks

A collision caused by a truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds can be catastrophic such as the accident which occurred in April of this year on U.S. Highway 290. KHOU-TV reported that an eighteen-wheeler rammed into the rear end of a Kia passenger vehicle at full speed. A chain reaction ensued catching up two other vehicles in the mayhem. Several people were taken to the hospital with personal injuries.

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper was quoted as saying that, due to the terrific force of the impact caused when the eighteen-wheeler slammed into the Kia, the Kia’s back seat and trunk area were pushed up to the back of the driver seat. A young boy had been sitting in the back seat of the Kia. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in large truck crashed, the vehicle’s passengers are more likely to die than are the truck drivers. This was certainly the case in the Highway 290 accident since it was a young passenger vehicle occupant who died while the driver of the eighteen-wheeler survived.

Accidents involving commercial trucks can often occur in situations where the driver is speeding, impaired or fatigued. Often, there is more than one factor which gives rise to a collision that the truck driver has caused due to his negligence. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that fatigue is most certainly one of the key reasons truck accidents can occur given that research shows that long hours of driving increase crash risk.

In order to avoid fatigued driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has rules in place to prevent drivers from working too many hours. These rules are known as “hours of service” regulations. Unfortunately, according to the Insurance Institute, surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted. One problem is that the handwritten logbooks, by which drivers keep a record of their work hours, lend themselves to easy falsification.

The Insurance Institute has long been a proponent of requiring electronic data recorders for commercial trucks in order to improve compliance with the “hours of service” rules by automatically recording when a specific truck is being driven. These devices, say the Insurance Institute, would replace the handwritten logbooks.

New proposed federal safety rule

According to a March 13, 2014 news release, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are now proposing to enact a rule requiring interstate trucking companies to use “Electronic Logging Devices” in vehicles. These devices will monitor how many hours truckers do indeed drive.

Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox announced that the proposed rule requiring trucks to be equipped with ELDs is specifically designed to help reduce crashes caused by fatigued drivers which causes injuries and cost lives each year. A FMCSA spokesperson similarly declared that the rule “will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

Seeking legal advice following a truck accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision you believe to have been caused by a fatigued or otherwise negligent truck driver, you should contact an attorney experienced in motor vehicle accidents. Analyzing the evidence in a motor vehicle accident can be complicated. However, an attorney who has experience in handling commercial vehicle accidents can assist you in both investigating the accident and in dealing directly with the motor carrier and its insurer.