You may share a widely accepted belief that driver fatigue is a significant cause of large truck accidents and highway fatalities. There are laws in place designed specifically to protect you and other motorists by addressing this problem. Commercial truck drivers operate under strict regulations regarding how much time they are allowed to spend behind the wheel, and how often they need to take breaks and rest between on-duty shifts. To keep roadways safer, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented a mandate in 2017 that requires trucking companies to equip their vehicles with electronic logging devices, or ELDs, which automatically record the number of hours a truck is in operation.
However, it appears that this effort to combat driver fatigue has had a minimal impact on the number of trucking accidents. According to a report cited by TruckingInfo.com, although small motor carrier companies experienced a decrease in “Hours of Service” violations in the year following the mandate, the data didn’t appear to show a significant change in accident frequency. In fact, drivers for larger carriers were involved in more accidents after the rule change, although it is not clear if this was a direct result of the mandate as most of these trucks already operated with ELDs.
More concerning is that while studies suggest that drivers are more compliant with their operation schedules, there is a surge in other unsafe driving violations. For example, reported violations for speeding were up over 30% over the studied period. This statistic may not bode well for your overall highway safety: The FMCSA reported in 2017 that the primary driver-related cause for fatal large truck accidents was “speeding of any kind.”