Small Trucking Companies Endanger Drivers by Avoiding the ELD Mandate
Studies show that the 2017 mandate requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial trucks is cutting back on hours of service violations, leading to less drowsy driving and safer roads. However, small trucking companies are continuing to fight the mandate requiring them to switch from paper to electronic logs. First, these companies asked for a delay, and now they are pushing to be exempt from the mandate altogether. Our truck accident attorneys have found that small trucking companies are among the most dangerous of carriers and should have additional safety regulations — not exemptions.
Keep reading to learn more about the electronic logging device mandate and small truck carriers’ most recent attempt to avoid safety regulations.
The Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act
New legislation introduced in March is currently in committee and could be sent back to the House for full consideration. If passed, the Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act would permit trucking companies with ten or fewer trucks to be exempt from the ELD mandate. This is not the first time the trucking industry has proposed such a bill. Although their last attempt never made it out of committee, it’s concerning that the bill is being resurrected again and again.
And this bill is not even the first that small trucking companies have tried to pass to avoid the mandate. They initially attempted to get a five-year exemption that would delay their required compliance with the mandate.
Why are small trucking companies so averse to electronic logging devices? Some companies claim that, as a smaller operation, all their resources go into keeping their fleet operational and that they cannot afford to install ELDs. But our attorneys have noticed a pattern that points to a different motive.
Small Trucking Companies Have Poor Safety Records
As a law firm that specializes in truck wrecks, our attorneys have taken countless trucking companies to court. And one of the things we have discovered while investigating these corporations is that small fly-by-night trucking companies have some of the poorest safety and regulatory compliance records among motor carriers.
Smaller companies more often flaunt the hours of service laws and push their drivers to the breaking point. It’s not surprising that they would oppose a mandate that eliminates their ability to falsify driving records by replacing paper logs with electronic devices. Exempting small truck companies from the ELD mandate negates one of the most important benefits of the regulation.
Chameleon Carriers: Small Companies Endanger Road Users Further
Another danger of exempting smaller trucking companies from the ELD mandate is that some of these companies have dangerous safety records and have found a way to fly under the radar. They are known as “chameleon carriers” — companies that have liability issues or poor safety ratings and re-register with the U.S. Department of Transportation as a different company. The practice wipes their slate clean, hiding their past misdeeds from the public or even their own drivers.
A small company can fudge paper driving logs to conceal their illegal behavior, but they can’t tamper with an electronic logging device. Although ELDs may not eliminate the chameleon carriers, they will make it considerably more difficult for the carriers to continue breaking the hours of service laws.
What Are ELDs and Why Are They So Important?
ELDs help ensure compliance with hours of service laws, cutting down on drowsy truck driving. Fatigue is a factor in almost all truck wrecks and is especially problematic when truck drivers continue working past their mandating rests.
ELDs record a variety of information, including:
- Date and time
- Location information
- Engine hours
- Vehicle miles
- Driver authentication
- Motor carrier information
- Vehicle data
This data collection can be beneficial for truck companies that take safety seriously and also for supporting personal injury cases when truck wrecks do happen.
Truck Drivers and Carriers Can Benefit From ELDs
Although many trucking companies are still fighting the ELD mandate, others have realized some of the many benefits to using electronic logs over paper ones. By recording all the above data automatically, ELDs can help:
- Reduce paperwork for their truck drivers
- Provide a more accurate service log
- Ensure compliance with Hours of Service laws
- Detect truck maintenance issues
ELDs Provide Evidence for Truck Accident Claims
The data collected by ELDs can be beneficial for proving negligence in a truck wreck case. Discovering the cause of a truck crash can be difficult, but if attorneys can access the vehicle’s ELD, they can determine whether the crash was caused by a violation of the hours of service rules or possibly even an engine maintenance issue. This information can help determine whether the truck driver and company are responsible for the crash and can point attorneys in the right direction for the remainder of their investigation.
Contact Seattle Truck Law if You’ve Been Hurt in a Truck Wreck
Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident? The skilled attorneys at Seattle Truck Law have experience investigating drivers and companies to discover past violations, accident history, and negligent hiring practices.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2018, June). Electronic logging devices: Improving safety through technology [infographic]. Washington, DC.: U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved from, https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations/enforcement/406471/eld-infographic-6-month-update-f2508621.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.