Although electronic logging devices provide many advantages to drivers and commercial carrier operations, the principal motivation for the law mandating ELDs remains highway safety.
ELDs make driving safer for everyone on the road. And they accomplish this in more ways than the obvious benefit of helping to enforce a limit on the number of hours CMV drivers spend behind the wheel.
Take a rest
Any improvement that can reduce driver fatigue is a gain in safety. ELDs lessen the driver’s workload by reducing or eliminating record-keeping tasks. Filling out even a moderate amount of paperwork is more tiring mentally than taking a half-hour break.
Minding the job
Automated records leave fewer issues for the driver to think about so they can focus on their primary task, driving, instead of trying to remember the last time the log was maintained, or how many minutes are left on the clock before the next required rest stop.
ELDs record engine performance data, which can highlight areas that may require service earlier than the next scheduled maintenance interval. This can flag impending mechanical problems before they occur and keep a commercial motor vehicle from becoming a highway hazard.
Safety in numbers
To put these principles to the test, the FMCSA studied accident rates in vehicles equipped with ELDs and those without. The ELD trucks and drivers had a lower crash rate — an 11.7% reduction in accidents.
Based on the findings, the FMCSA calculates that these devices may prevent more than 500 injuries per year, and possibly save an estimated 26 lives.
Source: Department of Transportation/ Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Evaluating the Potential Safety Benefits of Electronic Hours-of-Service Recorders Final Report, 2014.