Electronic Logging Devices, Do They Reduce Truck Accidents?
A study from the Supply Chain Management Research Center shows that electronic logging devices (ELD) have not reduced truck accidents. In fact, they have seen an increase in trucking accidents since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated them in 2017.
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What Are ELD Systems?
Commercial motor vehicle drivers use ELD systems to record driver and vehicle information. This information can include:
- GPS tracking
- Miles traveled
- Engine diagnostics
- Engine speed
- Hazardous driving behaviors
When law enforcement pulls over a truck driver, they can use this information to determine if they violated traffic laws or FMCSA regulations.
Why Did the FMCSA Mandate ELDs?
The FMCSA mandated electronic logging devices to help law enforcement ensure that truck drivers follow the “Hours of Service” rule. It refers to the maximum time truck drivers can drive before taking a mandatory rest. The goals of this mandate are to ensure truck drivers are alert on the road.
ELDs automatically record a driver’s driving time and other aspects of their travel. As a result, the truck driver has a more accurate record of the distance and time they have driven than with a paper logbook.
The Mandate Hopes to Stop Truck Drivers From Driving While Fatigued
Many truck accidents occur because truck drivers drive while fatigued. To get a job done faster, truck drivers could drive over their maximum hours of service. If they have an ELD, it could discourage them from driving more than the law permits. Law enforcement can also review the ELD record and enforce the regulations on the truck driver’s hours of operation.
When truck drivers work while fatigued, it increases the probability of catastrophic accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatigue can result when you don’t get enough sleep or enough quality sleep. The effects of driver fatigue include:
- Slower reaction times
- Poor decision making
- Lane drifting
- Nodding off
- Experience brief sleep episodes
- Not remembering the last few miles you drove
Implementing mandates, such as installing ELDs on trucks, can prevent truck drivers from driving while fatigued.
Other Benefits of ELD Systems
While ELD systems can track engine diagnostics to prevent truck drivers from driving while fatigued, they offer other benefits, such as:
- They can alert the driver when the truck needs maintenance.
- They can complete driver and vehicle inspection reports.
- They can monitor how safely the truck driver drives the truck.
- They can reduce fuel consumption by reducing idling time.
While these systems have many benefits, unfortunately, the data have shown that they have not decreased the number of truck accidents. The FMCSA continues to work to reduce the number of truck accidents that occur across the United States.
Why Have ELD Systems Not Reduced Truck Accidents?
While the mandate significantly improved compliance among the truck drivers to submit their “Hours of Service” logs, it did not lessen the number of accidents. ELD systems have not reduced truck accidents because they have changed truck drivers’ behaviors. Results have indicated that truck drivers have received more speeding and unsafe driving citations.