Dec. 06–Just about every consumer item is carried in a truck at some point, which is why about 15 million commercial rigs are on the road every day.
The sheer volume of that traffic makes truck safety a high public priority that warrants the use of readily available technology.
To that end, the heavy-truck industry faces a Dec. 18 deadline to install electronic logging devices in all big trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the rule at the direction of Congress in 2015, so truckers have had two years to prepare for the deadline.
According to the FMCSA, driver fatigue is the leading factor in 13 percent of big-truck crashes.
Since 1938, truckers have recorded their hours in paper log books. But it was an open secret that many truckers kept dual books to mask excessive hours.
Federal regulations require truckers to work no longer than 14 hours, during which they may actually drive 11 hours. When the 14 hours are up, they are supposed to rest for 10 hours before hitting the road again.
Electronic logs, which are wired into a truck’s engine and other system, accurately record actual hours behind the wheel.
Some elements of the trucking industry, mostly major operators, have installed the devices but others oppose it. They contend that ELDs will cause more problems than they solve, forcing drivers to take chances to meet the 14-hour deadline. And they say, the enforced hours will increase the costs of shipping and, therefore, the costs of consumer goods.
But the FMCSA says the rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent more than 500 serious injuries. Any increase in shipping costs likely would be offset, it contends, by reduced costs due to fewer crashes and vastly reduced paperwork costs.
Regulators should keep the deadline rather than grant another two years for “study,” as requested by some truckers.
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