No one wants to share the roads with drowsy drivers. However, each Tuscaloosa truck wreck lawyer at our firm has seen the dangers increase almost exponentially when someone nods off behind the wheel of a commercial semi truck weighing in at 80,000 pounds or more.
Federal law has required truckers to maintain paper records of their hours of service for nearly three decades, but those requirements have only been marginally effective in helping truck drivers remain alert on the road. Hopefully, new laws that require electronic record-keeping will prove to keep more motorists safe.
According to one report from CBS News, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finalized requirements for a system that replaces paper records with electronic hours reporting. They predict that the new requirements will help prevent records tampering, save about 26 lives per year and prevent 562 injuries annually. Some of the key points of the new law are as follows:
At least one trucker advocacy group has argued that the use of unproven technology does not guarantee increased safety or hours-of-service compliance so much as it increases operations costs.
Some truck drivers further argue that electronic records can act to encourage hiring companies to pressure drivers to continue driving when they recognize their personal need for rest before the expiration of their legally-allowed driving limits.
Of course, only time can tell whether the use of electronic devices actually increases safety, but it appears that the FMCSA took care to address trucker concerns. It permits lower-cost options, and it even includes an anti-harassment law to protect drivers from unfair company demands.
It is no secret that fatigue represents one of the top causes of truck accidents. Even drivers with years of experience are not immune to the hypnotic effects of countless miles of roads, lengthened reaction times and a reduced ability to think clearly. Unfortunately, in the moments after a truck accident, adrenaline and other factors can mask the symptoms of a drowsy driver.
Victims of trucking accidents need to rely on support from an experienced trucking accident attorney who knows how to look beyond police accident reports to records that point to causes beyond the information that is available at the accident scene. Electronic hours-of-service records are likely to prove more accurate than paper records, and they should provide a better starting point for future truck accident investigations.
Fewer Alabama Truck Crashes Expected With New Hours of Service Rules, Tuscaloosa Truck Accidents blog