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Electronic devices proposed for trucks and buses

A proposal that would call for commercial trucks and buses to have electronic devices to recall how many hours the vehicles are in operation is being considered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The measure is geared towards reducing the number of fatal accidents involving trucks and buses.

It is also another step to enforce the hours of service rules implemented last summer. Essentially, drivers are limited in the number of hours they can be behind the wheel each day, and may only work a total of 70 hours during a particular work week before they take a mandatory break that must include at least one overnight period. 

Despite these rules, there are a number of companies that have drivers who disregard them. They continually falsify driver logs. In fact, drivers do it so often, the logs are called "comic books" because the true facts of a journey are made up so frequently. It has also been found that companies keep two sets of log books in order to conceal true records from safety inspectors.

At the same time, accident investigators find that trucking accidents are commonly attributable to drivers exceeding service hours.

The proposal is estimated to save at least 20 lives each year. Also there are legal implications as well. A trucking company could be held liable if an accident is caused by violating federal hours of service rules, because breaking such rules could be viewed as a failure to use reasonable care while driving.

 It remains to be seen whether, or when, the proposal will be made into a final rule. 

Source: "Devices to track truck, bus driver hours proposed," Joan Lowy, Mar. 13, 2014

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