Electronic logs target trucker fatigue in Texas and across the country

New federal guidelines could help to reduce the number of fatigue-related trucking accidents.

Every year, almost 4,000 people are killed as a result of a large truck crash accident in Texas and across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The department notes that one of the leading factors in these incidents is driver fatigue. Truckers are known for working long hours, often with little breaks.

Unfortunately, it often takes these fatal accidents to bring about change. On the horizon, however, could be a way to reduce the number of truckers who are sleepy behind the wheel.

E-logs and how they may help

Business Insurance magazine reported recently that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will soon require all commercial truck drivers to record the hours they work using an electronic system. Currently, truckers are permitted to simply handwrite a log, which a 2011 report from the DOT found were often falsified.

The DOT conducted another study in 2014 that found that drivers who used electronic logs had 11.7 fewer truck accidents than their counterparts who manually wrote down hours. One explanation is that the electronic logs keep truckers honest when it comes to how many hours they have been on the road.

The FMCSA believes that instituting electronic logs would potentially prevent 430 injuries 20 deaths every year. Further, the agency states that the new guidelines could save up to $395 million a year.

Why driver fatigue happens

There are a number of reasons that truckers are often driving while drowsy, such as the following:

  • They face tight deadlines and are forced to spend more hours on the road.
  • Federal regulations do not provide sufficient rest time between shifts.
  • Drivers are often only paid if they are driving, which indirectly encourages them to work more.

The FMCSA currently allows drivers carrying property to be on the road for up to 11 hours as long as they have had 10 consecutive hours off work. Drivers who carry passengers are limited to 10 hours of driving after eight hours of rest. There is also a 14-hour and 15-hour on-duty limit, which covers the total time a worker is on the clock. That can include doing maintenance work, fueling and loading cargo.

While these limits have good intentions, they still permit for truckers to drive as much as 60-70 hours a week. The DOT reports that many drivers suffer from chronic fatigue because they work hours and do not get enough rest time. In turn, this causes slowed reaction time and poor judgment while behind the wheel.

In Texas, someone injured in a truck accident is permitted to hold the negligent parties accountable. In a situation involving trucker fatigue, defendants in a lawsuit could include the driver and the driver's company. Anyone with questions about this issue should consult with an attorney.