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New federal rule requires truck drivers to use electronic logs

Under a new federal regulation, commercial bus and truck drivers in California and nationwide will soon be required to log their hours electronically. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the final rule in December 2015, and it will go into effect 60 days after the date of its release.

Commercial drivers have been required to track their work hours with paper logs since 1938. However, safety experts have been calling for the system to be modernized for years, claiming that paper logs are easy to falsify in order to evade overtime restrictions. The change has been fought by independent drivers, who say trucking companies and their customers will use the electronic logs to pressure drivers who are under the legal limit to keep driving even when they are fatigued.

The FMCSA estimates electronic logs will save the government around $1 billion per year by reducing paperwork. The agency also estimates that 562 injuries and 26 deaths will be prevented each year. The new rule includes design specifications for electronic logging devices. Drivers who are based in Mexico or Canada and who operate vehicles on U.S. roadways will be required to use electronic logs. However, tow truck drivers and drivers who punch time cards are exempt from the new rule. Companies have two years from the date the rule goes into effect to implement the new electronic logging system. Smartphones and similar wireless devices are approved for logging as long as they meet certain specifications.

Commercial vehicle accidents cause thousands of catastrophic injuries every year in the United States, and many are the result of truck driver fatigue. A person who has been injured in such an action might want to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney in seeking compensation from the responsible parties.

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