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New electronic logbook rule expected to prevent driver fatigue, truck accidents

The trucking industry is subject to strict safety regulations for obvious reasons: a 40-ton vehicle travelling at a high rate of speed can cause massive damage when not driven safely, and every year passenger vehicle occupants suffer catastrophic injuries because of trucking negligence.

One important safety regulation for truck drivers is the requirement to log their hours of service. To prevent fatigued driving, which is a known threat on Florida roads, truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving time after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and the driving time must be accurately recorded in an hours-of-service log. The recent big news regarding these logs is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a rule requiring truck drivers to use electronic logging devices instead of paper logs.

The FMCSA expects that the new rule will save lives by preventing driver fatigue and accidents. The electronic devices, commonly called ELDs, will make it easier to accurately track and share truck drivers' work time. In the past, there have been issues with inaccurate and poorly maintained paper logbooks, and the new requirement will help standardize data records and prevent data tampering.

As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx put it, ELDs will "allow roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk."

While the ELD requirement is welcomed by safety advocates, truck drivers are not required to comply with the rule until December 18, 2017, although many trucking companies have already implemented ELDs.

The devices will also make it easier to investigate hours-of-service violations as they relate to truck accidents. For more on these kinds of investigations, please see our truck accident overview.

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