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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently published a rule which will go into effect in February of 2016 that will require all commercial truckers to use automatically-recording electronic logs to note the number of hours they've worked and the miles they've traveled each day. Carrier companies have until December of 2017 to implement electronic logging devices across all fleets and drivers, which experts estimate includes some 3 million drivers. 

Long-haul truck drivers are governed by the FMCSA's hours of service rules. These rules limit drivers to 14 hours of work during a 24-hour period, and allow 11 of those hours to be spent driving. Prior to now, authorities ensured compliance with these rules with the use of paper logs. Drivers would note the length of time they spent on the road, the length of their mandatory rest breaks, and the mileage covered, and submit these paper logs to their carrier company, who would then submit them to authorities. However, use of paper records left a great deal of room for fabrication, and due to the high demands placed on a shrinking pool of commercial truck drivers, there existed a great incentive to lie on these logs and drive longer than permitted.

The use of electronic logging devices is anticipated to close that loophole which permitted drivers to go beyond the legal limit on hours driven, imperiling not only their own safety by driving while fatigued or using stimulants, but also that of other drivers. The FMCSA estimates that 562 accident-related injuries, and 26 fatalities, will be avoided each year with the use of electronic logs. While certain companies have been using electronic logs rather than paper for some time, the new rule will create uniform requirements for the devices across the industry. The electronic logs will be required to connect to a truck's onboard computer, so that it can record exactly when the truck's engine will start. The device will note how many miles were traveled over subsequent hours, and will also record the driver's GPS location throughout the day, which will make the logs even more difficult to fraudulently generate. The use of electronic logs will also allow law enforcement officials to inspect a driver's logs when pulling that driver over for a roadside inspection, to ensure that the driver remains safe to be on the road.

If you are in need of legal assistance to recover for your injuries after a truck accident, contact the experienced New Jersey truck crash and personal injury attorneys at the Morristown offices of Smith & Doran for a free consultation, at 973-292-0016.

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