The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently proposed a new rule that would require most commercial trucks and buses to be equipped with electronic devices that record the duration of time the vehicles are driven.
The federal government sets limits on how many hours commercial bus and truck drivers may be behind the wheel at one stretch or in one day. But the paper logbooks kept by some drivers are very easy to alter by drivers and by their employers, either of whom may be tempted to put profits and quick delivery ahead of safety and the law. Electronic logs are much harder to forge.
The FMCSA estimates that the measure will save 20 lives and prevent 434 injuries each year by reducing crashes caused by tired drivers. Two years ago, Congress directed the Obama administration to create regulations requiring electronic logs, and this rule proposal is a step toward meeting that goal.
Electronic logs are already used by most large trucking companies. Paper logbooks are mainly used by smaller operators and independent owner-drivers, who have long opposed the impending mandate. The American Trucking Association welcomed the proposal as a way to “level the playing field,” while the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it would review the proposal.
Pressure to deliver on time and to make money tempts many drivers to stay behind the wheel when they should not, whether because of fatigue, weather or other factors. This regulation, already in effect in many other countries, is a necessary next step in minimizing the dangers posed by commercial trucks on the road.
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