It's been five years since the US made electronic logging devices —or ELDs — mandatory on all trucks.
- In 2017, the US government made electronic logging devices mandatory on all trucks.
- The fatal work injury rate per 100,000 equivalent workers went from 23.6 in 2013 to 28.8 in 2021.
- Experts say the safety technology might be making trucking less safe.
The devices help ensure truckers don't drive longer than they should, a maximum of 11 hours per day, to avoid fatigue and keep roads safe. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that they'll result in "1,844 crashes avoided annually, 562 fewer injuries per year, and 26 lives saved each year."
It's hard to tell if that decline has manifested yet. Between 2017 and 2019, crashes involving large trucks increased by 11% before decreasing dramatically during the pandemic in 2020, according to FMCSA data. Data for 2021 is not yet available.
Concurrently, fatality rates among truckers have increased, from 23.6 per 100,000 workers in 2013 to 28.8 in 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Injuries and deaths from crashes involving crashes with large trucks have also increased, according to NHTSA data.
The increase seems to confirm what truckers have been saying for years: widespread enforcement of ELDs is doing the opposite of what it should, making trucking less safe.
It's likely due to a lack of flexibility. While the regulations are reasonable, their electronic enforcement lacks wiggle room.
"If you're 30 minutes from home and you get to your 11 hours, you must shut down, or else you get an automatic hours-of-service violation," Brian Pape, a trucker who left the industry after 13 years, told Insider last year. Another driver, Brian Stauffer, pointed out that ELDs don't allow for adjustment, and that a driver that has reached the 11-hour limit shouldn't be forced to stop in a high-crime area, for example.
On top of that, most truckers are not paid by the hour, they're paid by mile driven.
"There's a much less flexible window for truckers to get from point A to point B," said Karen Levy, a professor at Cornell University who has studied the effects of data-tracking on the trucking industry, told Insider. "They used to say, 'I'll get there in about 11 hours'. Now they really only have 11 hours. As a result, they tend to drive faster, they maybe don't stop when they feel like they should because they know they have to get from A to B."
If drivers do not abide by the rules and are caught by police, the Department of Transportation, or the carrier for which they work, they incur in fines that could jeopardize their trucking license. Before ELDs, hours of service were noted down on paper logbooks, which were easy to falsify.
While there have been some cases of carriers tampering with their drivers' ELDs to make them drive longer, the enforcement of the ELD mandate for all trucking companies — big ones have generally been using ELDs for decades — has indeed made drivers more compliant with hours of service regulations, according to studies.
Levy says the regulations don't address underlying issues affecting the industry.
"An ELD doesn't change the pay structure of trucking, which is just being paid by the mile," Levy said. "So we police truckers harder, but we don't change the root causes of fatigue or the reasons why they're overworking."
Todd Spencer, CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote an open letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in November 2022 stating that "there was never sufficient research indicating the mandate would improve highway safety and the agency still lacks data demonstrating any positive safety results since its full implementation."
Additionally, the strict enforcement of hours of service brought by ELDs can leave truckers feeling like they don't have autonomy over their own job, and they cannot be trusted to decide what's the safest condition to drive.
"If you talk to truckers about why they got into this line of work, much of what is appealing to them about this job is that it's very independent and autonomous," Levy told Insider. "It's not a job where you are compared to your coworkers or where there's someone looking over your shoulder, or at least that was the thinking. And nowadays that's changed a lot."
Electronic tracking has been required on semi-trucks for 5 years. Fatalities haven't decreased. (msn.com)
Electronic tracking has been required on semi-trucks for 5 years. Fatalities haven't decreased.
Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by SteveScott, Feb 5, 2023.
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OLDSKOOLERnWV, Graham Cracker, mitmaks and 8 others Thank this.
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The failure isn't the unit, it seems it could be in many cases the driver.
The regulations need to return to the 1962 version for HOS, limit the exemptions and allow latitude for the driver to make decisions.
AND this has to be the dumbest comment I ever read - "Another driver, Brian Stauffer, pointed out that ELDs don't allow for adjustment, and that a driver that has reached the 11-hour limit shouldn't be forced to stop in a high-crime area, for example."
The ELD doesn't force a driver to stop in a high crime area.Lostmykey, D.Tibbitt, brian991219 and 6 others Thank this.
Honestly the whole idea is insane to me. Why do we get overtime only after 60 hours. Why are we paid mileage at all. How many miles you get is not for the most part under your control.
You should be paid hourly from when the truck turns on to when it turns off back at home base.D.Tibbitt, LtlAnonymous and Rideandrepair Thank this.
D.Tibbitt, LtlAnonymous, Albertaflatbed and 2 others Thank this.
They mention a sharp decline in crashes, during the pandemic. Well, “X” number of vehicles were removed from the road. To me, traffic density is a bigger factor to overall crash numbers than anything. The number of vehicles on the road has exponentially increased, yet, the infrastructure has barely changed.D.Tibbitt, flood, RockinChair and 9 others Thank this.
FozzyNOK Road Train Member
- Jul 18, 2007
Why do you think they're making the ELDs connect to DOT whenever they want? The rules that are in place would actually help, but enforcement is the issue.
The problem with going back to the old system is that the ELDs are holding back a lot, and those who haven't used paper will see it as a new freedom creating lots more accidents from tired driving. Things would get worse before they got better. It's all a problem with human nature.Rideandrepair and gentleroger Thank this.
Flat Earth Trucker Road Train MemberRideandrepair, ducnut, The Railsplitter and 2 others Thank this.
bryan21384 Road Train Member
- Sep 18, 2009
Electronic logs to me isn't the reason for the crashes. It can be a preventable measure though. I think some drivers are undertrained big time. Many drivers are absolutely lousy at trip planning,, and sometimes that even involves taking loads that they can't deliver in the time given. Then too many drivers have this "hurry up and wait" mindframe. If the run is 1500 miles, you don't make anymore money by hurrying up. I think drivers need to be taught how to be more efficient with time. I don't know what the article is talking about when they say no flexibility. There is plenty of flexibility, especially with the 7/3 or 8/2 split. The problem is that drivers' definition of flexibility would be a scenario in which planning would not be involved.MysticHZ, MIT, Crude Truckin' and 11 others Thank this.
Accidental Trucker Road Train Member
At it's core, the ELD is an extension of dispatch. "You have the hours to get there", spoken by a wet-behind-the-ears, never driven a truck, let alone through winter weather, and unfamiliar with parking availability, receiving delays, border delays, driver sleep patterns, or traffic patterns.
The problem isn't so much that the driver "has no flexibility" because of the harsh reality of absolute time keeping of the ELD, it's that dispatch takes those absolute time numbers and shoves them into a very un-absolute world, with the driver left to make up the difference.Crude Truckin', D.Tibbitt, Numb and 7 others Thank this.
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