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Technology targets trucker fatigue to improve safety

It is a well-known fact that operating a commercial truck often requires many long hours behind the wheel, opening the door for drivers to become excessively fatigued. These hours often come at night which can exacerbate fatigue given a body's natural inclination to sleep during dark hours. This reality can leave Texas residents in passenger vehicles or on foot at risk of being involved in an accident caused by a fatigued trucker.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has actually created a new regulation designed to address the problem of fatigue among truckers. The Hours of Service rule dictates when drivers must take breaks in a work day and work week. In order to facilitate compliance with this rule, the FMCSA also requires the use of electronic logging devices. The purpose of this requirement is to confirm that breaks are actually taken according to the schedule and that drivers are not staying behind the wheel too long and getting overly tired. 

The ELDs communicate with a truck to document when a vehicle is started, for how long and when it idles and for how long and when it is actively driven. Previously, driving time was allowed to be documented with paper logs which made it easier for records to be adjusted in order to show compliance even if that did not actually happen.

The move to ELDs has not been without some controversy in the trucking industry. However, Fleet Owner reports that anectodal data appears to show that these devices may be having a positive impact by allowing drivers to get better sleep, thereby improving safety. 


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