When truck drivers are exhausted, yet continue to drive an 80,000-lb. machine along highways, everyone is put at risk – even the truckers themselves. The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to oversee the safety of our highways by governing commercial vehicles like trucks that transport good and busses that transport people.
Because fatigued drivers have been the cause of so many deadly accidents, the FMCSA keeps coming up with ways to make sure that commercial vehicle operators get the rest that they need to drive their vehicles safely. The FMCSA updated the Hours of Service (HOS) mandate in 2013 to codify the guidelines under which drivers could manage their time behind the wheel and the times required for rest. Along with those guidelines came penalties for drivers and carriers who violated the HOS rules.
Drivers were supposed to keep log books that tracked their work time and rest time, but the flaw with log books is that it relied too much on drivers accurately self-reporting. Having paper logbooks made it far too easy for drivers to manipulate their numbers to drive long enough to meet their carrier’s strict deadlines. The next solution was to introduce an electronic solution for tracking HOS compliance that drivers are unable to fudge.
Or so they thought.
Truck drivers scamming the FMCSA safety rules
USA TODAY conducted an investigation which found that some truck drivers are simply scamming the rules and manipulating logs. In a story published in July 2017, USA TODAY reported on a truck driver who admitted to switching over from electronic logging to a fake paper log book to that he could bypass FMCSA regulations and exceed the maximum number of driving hours. The driver felt pressured by his company to work the long hours because he was not getting paid enough to take care of himself and his family, and afford to pay off the lease on the truck which was his sole source of income.
The trucking company that employed the truck driver has been cited 15 times for HOS violations, according to Department of Transportation inspection reports cited in the USA TODAY story.
Will electronic logging devices work to increase truck driver safety?
On December 18, 2017, the FMCSA rule requiring commercial truck drivers to use ELD’s went into effect. The safety regulations are supposed to cut back on the number of truck accidents, by ensuring that drivers get the rest they need to do their jobs. Citations for not following the federal mandate to have an ELD installed, and for violating HOS rules begins right away, but the deadline for enforcing the 10 hour out-of-service order penalty for non-compliance has been extended to April 1, 2018.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is a nonprofit association comprised of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal commercial motor vehicle safety officials and industry representatives. The CVSA’s mission is to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and uniformity throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States by providing guidance and education to enforcement, industry and policy makers. The CVSA, with approval from the FMCSA will begin enforcing the new ELD regulations on Dec 18th with fines as the penalty until April. Companies that are found to be continuously violating ELD and HOS regulations may be investigated by the FMCSA.
At Cunningham & Mears, you’ll find honest, practical advice and support from experienced Oklahoma City truck accident attorneys. If you’ve been hurt in a collision with a commercial truck, we may be able to help. Please call 405-232-1212 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case review today.
Marcus P. Mears is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Mears is committed to helping Oklahoma’s injured victims in the areas of injury law and insurance litigation. Mr. Mears was selected to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his work as lead counsel in multiple seven figure injury cases. Learn More