Commercial truck drivers aren’t inherently unsafe on the roads – but they do navigate 80,000 lb. trucks (when fully loaded) that can cause quite a bit of damage in a wreck.
Let’s start with a statistic: In its annual report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cites 2015 data showing 4,311 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses – an eight percent increase from the year before.
You can do a lot with statistics. You can skew the numbers in your favor, cite trends of upward or downward trajectories, or simply pick a number – like 4,311 fatal crashes in 2015 – and cry foul. But the reality of how to “fix” things – how to prevent sleepy truckers from staying behind the wheel too long, for example – is generally more complicated.
That said, lawmakers are giving it a shot when it comes to the hours-of-service regulations.
What are the hours-of-service regulations?
Simply put, HOS rules prevent (or are meant to prevent) truckers from hitting the road without adequate sleep or downtime – and causing a wreck because of it. The FMCSA is the governing agency that issues these rules. In general, truckers have a maximum number of hours they can drive both per day and per week as a whole.
The HOS rules undergo changes from time to time. That’s what is happening now.
At heart, the issue revolves around balancing truckers’ interests with the interests of other motorists who would prefer not to be injured (or worse) by a trucker who fell asleep behind the wheel. Truckers feel pressure to get from Point A to Point B on time. It’s essential to the job. But they must comply with the HOS rules or risk getting “curbed” for hours at a time. To avoid this – to get to Point B on time and avoid being curbed – some truckers are known to fudge their logbooks a bit to get around the HOS requirements.
Enter the new electronic logging devices (ELDs). As per Wired, the ELD is a flash drive that gathers data from a truck’s control module. For an officer checking on a trucker’s compliance with the HOS rules, the ELD appears to make it easy: Miles traveled, engine on (or off), GPS location, etc. are all accessible data points.
Theoretically, the ELD adds a notch to the safety belt – although many truckers don’t seem too happy with it.
Call Cavanaugh & Thickens
If you’ve been injured in a crash with a big rig or other large commercial vehicle, the truck accident lawyers of Cavanaugh & Thickens stand ready to help. We’ve handled all kinds of cases – including those that involved sleepy truckers.
For a free consultation, call 803-888-2200 today.