Congress recently passed a bill that would mandate all truck drivers to install electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, in their vehicles. These devices are designed to ensure that commercial drivers are not fatigued when behind the wheel by tracking the actual number of hours they have been driving. Although the final rule is not expected to be ready until 2014, with implementation set for two years after that, commercial truck driving companies are already gearing up for the change.
The measure has drawn wide support from many different trucking and safety organizations including the American Trucking Associations, the Teamsters and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. They all believe that using EOBRs will help reduce truck accidents because the devices keep truck drivers from continuing on their routes when they are fatigued.
Some organizations are concerned that the use of EOBRs may create new safety hazards. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is concerned that EOBRs will prompt companies who are more concerned with productivity than driver safety to push truck drivers to speed in order to complete their routes faster. Time will tell whether their concerns are warranted.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association estimates that 19,705 people are injured and 755 people are killed in accidents with fatigued truck drivers every year. But statistics are tricky. They measure only those instances where fatigue was reported to be a factor, but in many cases fatigue is left off of police reports. Commercial truck drivers, concerned about their own livelihoods, may try to conceal their fatigue after being involved in an accident.
Truckers are already subject to laws governing the number of hours they may work in a day. Known as hours-of-service regulation, these restrictions are designed to prevent truckers from driving while fatigued.
Unfortunately, it is a not very well kept secret that many truckers routinely violate these regulations. Although truckers are required to keep a record of all of the hours they spend on the road in log books, these records are not always accurate.
Log books have traditionally been maintained by the truckers themselves. Manually recorded on paper, truck drivers have either falsified entries or logged their hours in two separate books, one containing the actual number of hours worked and the other, a fraudulent log book, listing hours work that are compliance with regulations.
These widespread abuses are the driving forces behind the new regulation. EOBRs will automatically track a truck driver’s hours, preventing these abuses.
If you have been injured by a truck driver on the road, contact a qualified personal injury attorney immediately. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you file a claim. We are available at 407-835-8968 or fill out the online form located on our website.