A new federal law passed at the end of 2015 gives trucking companies two years to switch from paper logs to electronic logging devices (ELDs). This new law will affect about 3 million truck drivers across the U.S. Truck drivers have been using paper logs to record their hours since 1938, and advocates agree that the change is well overdue.
Many argue that paper documentation can easily be changed and tampered with to avoid negative consequences. ELDs are meant to prevent this problem from happening by automatically logging hours through location tracking and monitoring a vehicle’s movement and engine run time.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
The main hope for this change is that it will prevent driver fatigue – one of the common causes of trucking accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that each year these devices could save up to 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries related to tractor-trailer accidents. The regulation is also expected to save $1 billion in paperwork alone.
Some truckers argue that the ELDs could actually cause more harm than good. Fox2Now explains, “The drivers say the companies that hire them to haul freight will be able to access the electronic logs and pressure drivers who haven’t reached their limit of legally allowed hours to stay on the road even if they want to rest.”
However, part of the legislation includes a safety measure to prevent driver harassment from happening as a result of information collected from the devices.