Truckers are limited by federal regulations to working no more than 14 hours per day and can only drive 11 of those hours. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent fatigued truck drivers from falling asleep behind the wheel of their 80,000-pound trucks and causing catastrophic accidents.
This system is monitored by truck drivers filling out paper logbooks, where they track their daily operation of their trucks. You may have suspected that there appears to be a slight flaw in this system. Because it is self-reported, it is subject to manipulation by the driver. And often that driver is being harassed by their dispatchers to drive longer than is allowed to meet delivery deadlines.
The trucking companies deny these claims, but given that it is the truck driver who may die in an accident or be sued for causing the deaths of other drivers, they seem to have little incentive for driving until they nod off while driving.
Part of the solution would be the use Electronic Driver Logging (EDL) devices. These EDLs track the movement of trucks making it fairly straightforward to determine when a driver has crossed the line and has exceeded his driving time.
The trucking industry has fought the effort by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require these devices, which were first proposed in 2011. The FMCSA is working to propose a new rule this fall, which would become effective within two years.
Shippers are always concerned with deadlines. Sadly, there are about 750 deadly truck accidents every year that are linked to fatigue. While EDLs may not prevent every fatigue-related fatality, it is likely that the delay in putting them into trucks has meant hundreds of motorists have met with a very different kind of deadline than that which worries shippers.
Fox11online.com,”FOX 11 Investigates truckers forced to exceed legal driving limits,” Mark Leland, April 28, 2015