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What is an ELD?

By Butler Prather LLP on July 8, 2019

When you are heading down the roadways and see a large commercial truck or bus, you probably do your best to give it space. You are right to do so. While large truck and buses are generally safe, they can cause severe injuries and even fatalities when a crash occurs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tells us that there were 4,761 fatalities and 148,000 injures due to large truck crashes in the US in 2017.

What is an ELD

There have been many efforts to improve large truck and bus safety over the years. A new requirement that all commercial truck and bus drivers must adhere to is an electronic logging device (ELD). As of December 18, 2017, all commercial trucks and buses must have an ELD.

An ELD records data regarding the operation of the vehicle and driver, including the driver hours of service (HOS) and record of duty status (RODS). These two points of data used to be manually recorded in logbooks that were easy to manipulate.

Other information the ELDs tracks include:

  • Driver or authorized user identification
  • Driver login/logoff
  • Personal use
  • Certification of a driver’s daily record
  • Geographic information
  • Miles traveled
  • 60-minute intervals of motion
  • Engine power up and shutdowns
  • Engine diagnostics and malfunction
  • Yard moves
  • And more

ELDs record all of this data automatically, though some entries can be edited manually by the driver or support staff (all edits are tracked and must be approved by the driver).

Why are these devices important?

ELDs do not change any rules or regulations already placed on commercial drivers. Instead, they automate much of the work that was previously done by hand. The FMCSA is responsible for encouraging drivers and fleets to implement safe-driving practices in the commercial trucking and busing industries. They determined that the traditional method of keeping all of these records was inadequate for the safety of everyone on the roadways.

In many cases, drivers fell victim to coercion or harassment form employers to falsify records in order to operate more hours than allowed between rest and sleep breaks. When drivers violate federal and state laws regarding safe truck driving, they can become fatigued, making it much more likely they will get into a crash.

“With the flexibility of paper logs being gone, drivers using AOBRDs/ELDs properly are actually getting more rest than in the past,” said Thomas Bray, a transportation industry consultant. Drivers are no longer able to use many of the trick available to them on paper logs to shorten breaks.

An ELD makes it nearly impossible for drivers to break the law regarding operating hours. Official data from the NTSB about ELDs will not be available for another year, but many drivers and fleet operators see positive benefits.

We do not want fatigued truck drivers on the roadways

Accidents involving large trucks can be devastating. It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries as a result of a crash with a large commercial truck:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Other injuries that inhibit a person’s daily activities
  • Significant disfigurement

Each of these injuries requires immediate medical attention. Some of them will see a victim needing major surgery and extended periods of rehabilitation in order to make a full recovery. This can result in time away from work. For those who are disabled, they may see a decrease in their earning capacity.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

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