Will mandatory electronic logging devices on commercial trucks and buses save lives in Indiana?

Electronic Logging Devices in Semi-TrucksWhile the truck and bus industry has had years to prepare for the change, complying with the mandatory use of electronic logging devices this December will still be a major change for many truckers and bus drivers. It may seem like this has nothing to do with you—the average passenger car driver—but, in fact, the law was passed with you in mind. As a more reliable way to enforce truck and bus driver hours of service rules, it should remove more fatigued truckers from the road, protecting you and your family from a potentially fatal run-in with a truck.

What Are Hours of Service Rules?

Designed both to protect drivers from being overworked by their employers and to protect the general public from dangerously fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) mandates the maximum number of hours drivers can operate their vehicles. These hours of service (HOS) rules apply to drivers of vehicles that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Transports hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards
  • Carries 9 or more passengers—including the driver—for compensation

In other words, every large commercial truck or passenger vehicle is subject to these limits on the number of hours they can be driven.

Federal HOS rules mandate the following for property-carrying vehicles:

  • Drivers may not drive for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Drivers may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

For passenger-carrying drivers, the rules are a little more restrictive. Bus drivers are subject to the following HOS rules:

  • Drivers may not drive for more than 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.
  • Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

While these rules may seem complicated to a non-commercial driver, you can be sure that every commercial driver understands what they mean for their driving. When they choose to ignore the rule—whether they are under pressure from an employer or not—they put you and your family at risk. Drivers are required to keep a log book of their on-duty and off-duty hours. They are subject to having their log books inspected by authorities for violations of these rules. However, paper log books are easily faked, leading to far too many fatigued commercial drivers on the road.

Electronic Logging Devices Are Designed to Keep Drivers Honest

Electronic logging devices (ELD) are installed in the vehicle and automatically record driving time by monitoring engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. ELDs are expected to strengthen compliance with HOS regulations. FMCSA estimates the devices will save at least 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries each year.  

While many trucking companies are already using ELDs in their trucks because they make life easier for the driver, not every company has been on board. Beginning on December 18 of 2017, however, every commercial vehicle that is subject to the HOS regulations will be required to install ELDs in all of their vehicles. Not only will these devices save drivers and their employers from mountains of paperwork, they will also save lives.

Truck Crash Attorneys Will Get to the Bottom of Your Accident

Even with ELDs, it is possible for drivers to violate HOS regulations and cause an accident. If you are injured in a collision with a big truck, leave it to the Indianapolis truck accident attorney team at Keller & Keller to investigate and find the cause of the crash. If the truck driver was negligent, we will prove it and make sure you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Call us today with your Indiana truck accident questions.


James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller