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Electronic devices for trucks could prevent fatigued driving

Many of us have had those days at work when we might not have gotten enough sleep and feel drowsy or fatigued. We may make some mistakes when sending an email or lose focus during a long meeting. Sleepiness can seriously affect job performance. In general, however, we are not putting other people's lives in danger by working while tired.

The same cannot be said for commercial drivers who operate huge, powerful trucks and buses. A person who zones out or falls asleep behind the wheel of these vehicles can end up causing catastrophic damage resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. That is why the trucking industry has strict rules on how many hours a driver can be behind the wheel without taking a break. Unfortunately, not all drivers take these Hours-of-Service Requirements seriously and try to cheat the system. 

Reckless truckers have found ways to falsify information and manipulate logbooks to cover up violations of the HOS Regulations. They do this so that they can drive for longer hours without taking breaks and not have to face the consequences of working too many hours. Not only is this a violation of trucking laws, but it is a major safety concern. Truckers who are fatigued can fall asleep at the wheel and make crucial errors that put others in danger.

That is why a proposal to include electronic devices on trucks and buses traveling between states has been well-received. The proposal, which was recently announced, would make it mandatory for these vehicles to have a device installed that electronically records the periods of time that a truck is in operation. Rather than relying on paper logbooks that can be easily changed by drivers, trucking companies can monitor compliance and performance based on the data recorded by the devices, which is less likely to be manipulated.

With more accurate record-keeping measures in place, truckers may be less inclined to violate HOS Regulations by driving too many hours. This could keep tired drivers off the road and reduce the number of fatigue-related truck accidents that end in tragedy. While the proposal is not yet final, it is certainly a step in the right direction to keep motorists safe from negligent truck and bus drivers.

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

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