There are several important considerations that led the U.S. government (in the form of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) to enact legislation requiring electronic logging devices for commercial operators--but it’s no secret that the main motivator is driver and the general publics’ safety.
It is easy to see why. Mile for mile, commercial drivers have an excellent safety record. Yet this industry receives national attention whenever an accident brings public focus on the issue of overworked or overtired long-haul drivers.
Although these incidents represent a very small percentage of the millions of miles logged every day, on each occasion there’s another call for better ways to deal with the issue. The ELD Final Rule is the latest step in that direction.
The important question, of course: is an ELD a genuine advance in driver and road safety, or a burdensome government regulation that will serve only to complicate matters?
As far as complicating the driver’s routine--far from it. ELDs don’t create more work, they reduce it. The devices make a driver’s job easier, with automatic tracking and recording functions that used to require tedious recordkeeping and paper logs. It’s likely that installing an ELD will save the typical driver many hours per year in daily paperwork. The FMCSA believes that ELDs will provide an annual net benefit of $1 billion in reducing that labor.
Saving time and reducing this workload undeniably means less driver fatigue. Those hours can be used for sleeping instead of filling out papers. And less fatigue equals safer driving.
Another way that ELDs contribute to safer highways is in reducing distraction. Automated functions leave less for the driver to think about, and more attention can be directed toward his or her primary task: the road.
These benefits indicate why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration calls a move to this technology “a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways.”
And the figures show it, both in lower accident rates and the financial hit that goes with a collision.
The FMCSA put those assumptions to the test in a study that compared accident rates between vehicles with and without an ELD system. The trucks equipped with ELDs posted a lower crash rate—an 11.7% reduction in accidents, according to testing.
Here’s where the money comes in.
Working from a years-long database of compiled statistics, FMCSA estimates that a typical truck accident costs the company or the operator the sum of $59,150.
That’s just in the various costs (lost work time, insurance, equipment replacement, legal issues) associated with a major mishap involving property damage. A physical injury bumps this figure to $342,000. And a fatality can hike the total to $7.9 million.
Saving money isn’t the most important reason to make highways safer. But when ELDs can protect lives and property, make drivers’ lives easier, and at the same time keep more dollars in your pocket, that’s the very definition of a win-win.
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