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FMCSA calls for electronic tracking of truck driver hours

The idea of a fatigued or sleeping driver handling a semi-tractor trailer is certainly a dreadful thought for many Tennessee motorists. Drowsy driving accidents often occur at high speeds and cause catastrophic injuries. Federal regulations place strict limits on how long bus and truck drivers can spend behind the wheel before they are required to rest; however, the paper logs used to record driver hours have been widely criticized.

Critics of paper logs point out that such a system relies on the honesty and thoroughness of truck drivers and their employers. Accident investigators say that these logs have sometimes been manipulated following a crash to indicate that the drivers involved had spent less time behind the wheel than they actually had. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration answered calls for a more effective way of tracking bus and truck driver hours on Dec. 10 when it introduced a new rule that will require many commercial vehicles to have sophisticated electronic monitoring systems installed within two years.

The devices will track the position and movement of buses and trucks while measuring how long drivers have worked by analyzing the number of hours that engines are in use and the amount of distance traveled during that time. Many truck owners and drivers object to the new regulation. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has initiated litigation with the aim of blocking the measure.

Electronic evidence indicating that a truck driver violated federal safety laws prior to being involved in an accident could be used by personal injury attorneys to establish liability in lawsuits brought on behalf of truck accident victims. Those hurt in truck accidents often suffer serious injuries that prevent them from working. These victims may seek compensation for lost income via a personal injury lawsuit.

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