There are many rules and standards for commercial truck drivers that are more strict than those for the average driver on the road. Most states have lower blood alcohol content limits for commercial drivers than other adults. There are federal regulations, as well as state laws, that forbid commercial drivers from texting while working. There are even Hours of Service regulations intended to keep drivers from getting behind the wheel while tired.
Unfortunately, the anti-fatigue rules have historically been easy to bend or break. Truckers could keep two sets of log books, one with accurate information for payroll and another to provide to law enforcement in the event of a stop. They could also manually change entries or altogether lie in their log books. In order to prevent future abuses, truckers must now use an electronic logging device (ELD) that tracks when they drive.
How ELDs can help keep the public safe
Exhaustion is a serious concern on the road. The human brain requires regular rest to ensure top performance. Truckers who continue to drive while tired can have slower response times to changes in road conditions and may have trouble focusing on the task at hand. That, in turn, can lead to catastrophic accidents that leave the people in the smaller vehicle with severe injuries or dead.
Thanks to ELDs, however, it is now much harder for truckers and their employers to break the law and cover their own tracks. ELDs help track time and do not allow truckers to adjust their records. They provide accurate times, speeds and GPS locations for trucks.
Truckers actually have to call into their dispatch office to update the ELD records, and the record will generally reflect the fact that editing has taken place. In other words, ELDs make it harder for commercial drivers and trucking companies to sabotage the rules in place to protect others on the road.
ELDs can show a pattern of behavior that can help you in court
The records of individual ELDs can help show how a truck driver behaves at the wheel. Times and GPS records can make it clear if someone is a habitual speeder. When it comes to exhausted drivers breaking the Hours of Service rules, ELDs provide a more accurate record than written log books.
Even if someone changes the record, the original entry and the edit notes will generally remain. This makes it easier for enforcement officials and attorneys to verify if there is a pattern of violations with a particular driver or company in the wake of a collision. If a driver has to routinely change the ELD for the vehicle, that could be a sign of habitual exhausted driving and a company cover-up.