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Feds propose new logbook requirement to prevent truck accidents

Highways are often lined with semi trucks, many of which are in the midst of a long haul. Like many other jobs, truckers face aggressive deadlines and might feel enormous pressure to meet them. Of course, all of this should be done within the safety requirements mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. One of the primary safety regulations limits the number of hours commercial truck and bus drivers can spend on the road in a given time period, which is designed to prevent fatigue-related accidents.

In order to maximize revenue, truckers or their employers might decide to violate the hour limits and complete as many jobs as possible. This, of course, puts truck drivers and other motorists at risk.

Many observers within the trucking industry have noted that keeping paper logbooks of service hours, a permissible practice, opens the door to record falsification. In order to address this serious concern, federal transportation officials recently announced a proposal that would require all commercial trucks and busses that make interstate trips to use electronic hour recording equipment.

According to reports from the Associated Press, having electronic equipment aboard commercial vehicles will largely prevent truckers or their employers from providing inaccurate hour data. The equipment would automatically records the number of hours a vehicle is in service over a given time period.

When announcing the plan, the FMCSA noted that the move will reduce the number of crashes that occur. Specifically, installing this equipment will save 20 lives and prevent 434 injuries annually.

Of course, this is only a proposal, which means that the rule is not yet enforceable and it could be shot down before it's even put into place. One other thing to keep in mind is that federal regulations only apply to truckers who operate in multiple states. Commercial vehicles that make trips only within Missouri's borders are not subject to the same rules. Until rules are enforced and followed, the hope is that truckers and trucking companies meet their responsibility to make safety a top priority.

Source: Associated Press, "Devices to track truck, bus driver hours proposed," Joan Lowy, March 13, 2014

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