Last year, amidst a firestorm of controversy, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) faced a difficult decision: change existing hours of service rules to staunch the number of serious and fatal truck accidents that were occurring because of fatigued driving or leave regulations the way they were so as not to negatively impact the trucking industry in the United States.
Although the FMCSA tried to find the balance, neither side felt completely satisfied with the final ruling in 2015. Now the FMCSA is facing an even greater challenge - one that could unravel everything its new regulation is trying to achieve.
The lawsuit that could lead to an injunction
At present time, the FMCSA is facing a lawsuit that could put a hold on a new mandate that would require truck drivers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all commercial vehicles that are currently required to adhere to part 395 of the federal hours of service regulations.
At present time, truck drivers aren't required to be in compliance with this regulation until December 18, 2017, the Department of Transportation explains. But if the group of independent truck drivers is awarded an injunction by a federal court, the federal government may not be able to enforce what it believes is important rules that could "reshape the trucking and shipping business in a big way."
ELDs could save time and lives
The purpose of mandating ELDs serves a threefold purpose:
For starters, it was designed to decrease the amount of time truck drivers spend manually recording time in log books. In addition, it eliminates the possibility of accidental errors and intentional changes that oftentimes give an inaccurate representation of actual hours of service.
Furthermore, it will give the public peace of mind knowing that ELDs will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify truck drivers who are not following the new federal regulations and hold negligent drivers and companies liable for their actions.
But perhaps the most important feature of the ELD mandate is that it's designed to save lives. It's anticipated that perhaps 1,844 truck accidents could be avoided every year if the mandate were followed. In addition, approximately 562 injuries could be prevented as well as 26 deaths each year.
Now, with the threat of potentially lengthy litigation anticipated down the road, who knows if this will be the safe future the FMCSA envisioned or if our roadways will continue to put lives at risk.