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New FMCSA rule requires electronic tracking of driver hours

Florida residents may know that federal rules are in place to restrict the amount of time that truck and bus drivers can spend behind the wheel without taking a rest break. The goal of the rules is to reduce the number of road users injured or killed each year in accidents caused by a fatigued truck or bus driver. Keeping track of the hours worked by drivers has traditionally been done using paper logs, but new rules introduced in December 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require commercial vehicles to have sophisticated electronic tracking devices installed within two years.

Accident investigators have been vocal critics of using paper logs to record the amount of time truck and bus drivers spend behind the wheel. They say that these logs can be manipulated easily and drivers sometimes do not fill them out correctly. The electronic devices required by the new FMCSA rule will record the position and movements of trucks and buses and determine how long drivers have taken between breaks by monitoring engine hours and miles covered.

The FMCSA says that the new regulation could save as much as $1 billion each year in reduced paperwork costs. The agency also believes that the lives of about 26 people will be saved each year by the technology. Trucking companies and several of the nation's 3 million or so truck and bus drivers oppose the measure, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has initiated litigation that seeks to block it.

A semi-tractor trailer with a sleeping driver at the wheel is a terrifying scenario for any road user. A personal injury attorney may initiate litigation on behalf of those injured in truck accidents involving a fatigued driver against the driver concerned or the owner of the vehicle. Demonstrating that federal rules concerning driver hours have been violated could help to establish liability in such cases and make it more difficult for defendants to blame other factors.

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