The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) recently published a study that confirms the beneficial nature of electronic hours of service recorders (EHSR) installed in large commercial trucks. For many years, commercial truck drivers logged their working hours on paper. These logs served not only to aid fleet owners and other employers in tracking daily operations, they served to ensure that truckers were complying with hours of service (HOS) requirements set by the FMCSA.
However, it quickly became apparent that paper logs can be forged, edited and otherwise incorrectly documented. Once such technology became available, certain trucks were installed with electronic logging devices. These devices are much harder to forge, edit or otherwise tamper with. As proper observation of HOS requirements tends to lead to fewer truck accidents, accurate logs that inspire truckers and their employers to adhere to these HOS rules are critical.
According to the new FMCSA study, large commercial trucks with installed EHSRs are significantly less likely to be involved in crashes when compared to large commercial vehicles without these tools. The FMCSA explains in its report that "The approach used in this research went far beyond any previous study in this domain. The results show a clear safety benefit, in terms of crash and HOS violation reductions, for trucks equipped with EHSRs."
Any reasonable and proven approach to reducing potentially deadly commercial vehicle accidents is welcome news. However, it is worth noting that the study "may not represent the overall U.S. trucking population," according to the FMCSA given that the report was focused primarily on larger, for-hire carrier operations.
Source: Overdrive, "FMCSA: Study shows lower crash rates with e-logs, but 'skewed' to bigger carriers," Kevin Jones, May 13, 2014