A new federal law mandating that commercial truckers in Oklahoma and across the U.S. use electronic devices to log in their driving hours has been issued. The goal of the mandate is to enforce already existing federal regulations that have been designed to prevent fatigued driving.
The danger with fatigued driving is that it can lead to truck accidents. Although truck drivers have been keeping track of their driving hours since 1938, they have been doing so in paper logs. This system makes it easy to keep two sets of logs or manipulate notations to go around federal regulations that limit driving hours. In an attempt to make sure truckers follow all regulations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued the new rule, which gives owners two years to comply and install the electronic devices. If a company is already using electronic devices that meet current standards but don't comply with the new rule, the company can continue to use these for four years. Truckers will also be allowed to use certain cellphones or other personal devices to log in their hours.
There are worries by truckers and owners that the information gathered by these devices might be used by the large manufacturing companies that hire them. They fear that these companies will put pressure on them to continue driving when they are fatigued but have not yet reached the maximum allowed hours of driving.
It is estimated that the rule will save approximately 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries yearly from accidents involving trucks and buses. As one of the factors identified in many accidents, fatigue can cause drivers to fall asleep, be less attentive and have slower reflexes. These side effects can all lead to serious or even fatal accidents.