All trucking companies must now install electronic logging devices in their commercial vehicles, according to a new mandate from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While ELDs are meant to accurately log drivers' hours and monitor their activities, many trucking companies in California and elsewhere are protesting the change.
ELDs link to a truck's engine so that it can capture special data like truck movements, the length of time that the engine is running, the length of time that the driver is behind the wheel and the number of miles driven. According to the FMCSA, the benefits of ELDs include easier accessing and sharing of driver records and the elimination of cheating, which was possible with paper logs. They could also keep fatigued drivers off the road, potentially averting hundreds of accidents in the process.
While large truck carriers like UPS and FedEx have been using ELDs for some time now, many trucking companies are protesting that the devices, by tracking drivers 24/7, constitute an invasion of privacy. They also claim that the devices will encourage companies to pay drivers only for those times that their truck is moving and not for those times when, for instance, they're waiting for a pickup. Lastly, some argue that mandating ELDs is a way for the government to kill off small trucking businesses.
For victims of 18-wheeler accidents, it can be very important to know whether the truck had an ELD on it. A lawyer may be able to evaluate the victim's grounds for an injury claim, hire investigators to get as much information as possible about the other driver and negotiate for an informal settlement with the trucking company itself. Some trucking companies encourage their drivers to work long hours to make shipments on time, which could have a decisive impact on injury claims.