Since 1938, commercial drivers have been required to keep written logbooks documenting the hours they drive each day. In December 2015, the federal government announced a new regulation that will require trucking companies to install electronic logging devices in order to prevent their drivers from doctoring their books.
The rule, announced by the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration, is scheduled to go into effect in February 2016. Carriers will be required to install the devices on their trucks within two years. Certain types of vehicles, including those that are older than model year 2000 and tow trucks, will be exempted from the new requirement.
The devices log hours by monitoring such things as the number of miles the truck is driven, when the engine is running, whether the truck moves and location. The devices are designed to work automatically, and they are reportedly much more tamper-resistant than are handwritten logbooks. The new rule was decried by owner-operators and smaller companies. Many of them expressed concerns that companies will try to force them to work more if the devices say they haven't worked a certain number of hours in a week or day.
One of the reasons that truck drivers are limited to driving a specified number of hours each day and week is that sleep-deprived truck drivers pose a much greater risk for causing accidents. In many cases, truck accidents are catastrophic or fatal. A person who has been seriously injured in such an accident caused by a negligent driver may want to meet with a personal injury attorney to learn what options may be available for seeking compensation.