HOS electronic logs: New rules to decrease the risk of accidents

New regulations are designed to increase safety by requiring motor carriers to report HOS data electronically.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently updated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) in an effort to decrease the risk of accidents by easing the ability of motor carriers to report hours-of-service data. The changes focus on the performance and design standards and requirements for the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs).

Why the update?

In the past, hours of service (HOS) logs were kept with paper and pencil. These logs were "virtually impossible to verify," according to the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The FMCSA states that the use of ELDs is designed to not only increase the accuracy of these records but also to reduce the paperwork burden for the motor carriers and drivers.

What impact will the change have?

The change not only requires the use of ELDs, but also outlines what types of systems should be used and what supporting documents are required to ensure motor carriers are complying with HOS regulations. Qualifying systems can include certain smartphones along with other devices. Supporting documents are broken down into categories like bills of lading, itineraries, dispatch records, expense receipts and payroll records. The new regulations also require that the devices are able to support one of two data transfer options to provide the information to the FMCSA.

The federal agency anticipates use of ELDs will prevent 1,844 trucking crashes annually.

What will happen if motor carriers do not comply with the new rule?

Motor carriers are given two years to come into compliance with this new regulation. The final compliance date is set for December 16, 2017. As a result, enforcement measures have yet to be finalized. However, a recent article in the Commercial Carrier Journal notes the former FMCSA administrator stated enforcement could be harsh, imposing a "one strike, you’re out" rule. This could mean those who fail to comply may face a temporary shutdown.

What should I do if I am injured in a truck accident?

This regulation is one of many designed to keep the roadways safe and reduce the risk of trucking accidents. In incidents involving a commercial truck and a much smaller passenger vehicle, crashes often lead to serious injuries. Depending on the details of the crash, compensation may be available to the victims. These awards can help cover the costs of medical bills, rehabilitation and lost wages. As a result, it is wise for victims of trucking accidents to contact an experienced car accident attorney. This legal professional can review the details of your accident and build a case to help better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.