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Court upholds electronic logging mandate

By December 2017, operators of most trucks in Kentucky and around the country will be required to have electronic logging devices installed in their vehicles. The devices will keep track of hours of service and rest periods, and they will replace the existing paper log system.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration first proposed such a requirement in 2010. However, it did not survive a court challenge by a trucking association for a few reasons, one of which is that the court agreed with the plaintiff that it constituted an invasion of privacy. In response, the FMSCA retooled the regulation. The same plaintiff in the earlier litigation filed another lawsuit, this time on behalf of two independent truckers, but on Oct. 31 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued its ruling upholding a lower court decision in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff still might appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but pending a further review, the rule will go into effect by late December 2017. Exempted from the requirement are pre-2000 model year trucks.

The federal safety agency has long pushed for this type of device, noting that paper logs are easily falsified. They can also be destroyed in an accident, robbing investigators of a valuable tool.

The purpose of hours of service and rest period rules is to cut down on the number of big rig accidents that are caused by truck driver fatigue. Many truckers push themselves to the limit, and in some cases it is because of pressure from their employers. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in an accident that was caused by a truck driver who dozed behind the wheel often face lengthy recovery periods. In some cases, an attorney might find that a personal injury lawsuit would be an appropriate method of seeking compensation.

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