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No more white lies: commercial drivers and electronic logbooks

Humans are prone to shade the truth. Indeed, to a rather alarming degree, the tendency to lie is common in many different contexts.

Last month, for example, in a New York Times essay that was widely circulated through social media, a commentator pointed out that in one survey about film rentals, fully 30 percent of the people who responded told a white lie about having seen the classic film "The Godfather."

In some contexts, however, white lies are no longer so innocuous. In this post, we will discuss the problem of easily-fudged paper log books for truck drivers and how electronic logbooks could make for a more transparent - and safer - working environment on the road.

How would electronic logbooks due this? Federal safety regulators believe that using electronic logs would increase compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) limits. And greater HOS compliance, in turn, would help prevent truck accidents caused by fatigued driving.

Safety regulators at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made a proposal last month for a rule that would make Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) mandatory for commercial vehicle operators.

The requirement would not only apply to trucking companies. It would also apply to bus companies.

FMCSA officials estimate that the rule could help prevent about 20 fatal traffic crashes each year caused by tired commercial drivers. It would also help prevent an estimated 434 injuries.

To be sure, the rulemaking process is likely to meet with plenty of comment from the trucking industry. One concern, for example, is that companies will use the electronic devices to harass their drivers by constantly checking up on them.

This, however, is what the rulemaking process is for, to address concerns and adopt rules that ultimately improve safety.

Source: FMCSA.gov, "DOT Proposes Use of Electronic Logbooks to Improve Efficiency, Safety in Commercial bus & Truck Industries," Accessed April 10, 2014

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