Fleet Safety

DOT Focused on Fatigue

Transportation safety organization is pushing for electronic logbook devices to help fight fatigue-related accidents.
By: | April 21, 2014

Impaired driving, including fatigue, was a factor in more than 12 percent of the accidents involving large trucks or buses in 2012. The U.S. Department of Transportation is hoping a requirement to use electronic logbook devices among interstate commercial truck and bus companies might prevent some fatigue-related accidents. The rule is aimed at improving compliance with mandates that govern the number of hours a driver can work.

“The proposed rule will ultimately reduce hours-of-service violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks and avoid detection by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and law enforcement personnel,” according to a government statement. “Analysis shows it will also help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million.”

Officials say the rule would also “significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping” for the drivers. Cutting the unnecessary paperwork is “exactly the type of government streamlining President Obama called for in his State of the Union address,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The increased efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review driver logbooks would make it more difficult for drivers to cheat “when submitting their records of duty status and ensuring the electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically, or printed, with potential violations flagged,” the statement said.

The electronic logbook device records would continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers and would only be made available to officials during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-accident investigations. Drivers would be protected from harassment through a prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner toward a driver using the information. A motor carrier could be subject to civil penalties up to $11,000 for engaging in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are “so fatigued or ill it compromises safety,” the statement explained. “The proposal will also ensure that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.”

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected].

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