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How Electronic Logging Devices May Affect Your Truck Accident Claim

Commercial truck drivers are subject to more rules and regulations than most people on the road. Another rule will soon take effect: the electronic logging device (ELD) rule. How will this new rule affect truck drivers? How might it affect your claim if you’ve been injured in a truck accident?

What Is an ELD?

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On December 18, the electronic logging device (ELD) rule will go into effect. The ELD rule, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will require all commercial truck drivers to use ELDs.

ELDs are used to track a trucker’s hours on the road. Currently, truck drivers can document their Records of Duty (RODs) manually. A truck driver must indicate which of the four statuses he falls under at the time:

  • “Off duty” or “Off”
  • “Sleeper Berth” (if one is used)
  • “Driving”
  • “On-duty not driving” or “On”

Why do truck drivers have to document their status? They have to show they are complying with FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations.

What Are the Hours of Service Regulations?

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The Hours of Service regulations exist to prevent truck drivers from driving while drowsy. Because truck drivers often have to haul cargo long distances at strange hours, they’re particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation. These regulations attempt to make certain that drivers are getting enough rest so they can be at their best when they’re on the road.

How serious is drowsy driving, really? It may not get the press that drunk driving or texting while driving get, but it’s just as dangerous. The National Sleep Foundation found that people who have been awake for 18 hours drive like a person with a .05 blood alcohol level. At a full 24 hours without sleep, people drive like their blood alcohol level is .10. (Your blood alcohol level only has to be at .08 to be considered legally drunk.)

First established in 1938, the Hours of Service regulations have undergone plenty of changes over the past 79 years. The current version of the regulations includes the following:

  • Truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Truckers are prohibited from driving beyond the fourteenth consecutive hour after coming on duty. (Remember, “on duty” can include times when the trucker is not driving.)
  • Truckers can only take a maximum of 8 hours between sleeper berth periods or rest breaks. These breaks must last at least 30 minutes.
  • Truckers cannot drive 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. Drivers can only restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after being at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper berth periods must last at least 8 consecutive hours, in addition to a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or a combination of the two.

How ELDs May Affect Your Truck Accident Claim

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ELDs are the next logical step in making sure that truck drivers are getting the rest they need to perform their duties safely. The federal rule makes certain that all truck drivers will have a similar device that:

  • Can record if the truck is in motion
  • Allows drivers to log in and select their status
  • Displays drivers’ current logged hours
  • Follows a standardized format to make it easily transmittable to law enforcement

Currently, some drivers are still logging their hours on paper. ELDs will not only save time and money, but they’ll also increase the accuracy of the data recorded.

So how would an ELD affect your claim if you were injured in an Indiana truck accident? An ELD can collect more data more accurately about whether or not the truck driver was complying with the Hours of Service regulations at the time of the accident. It could show easily that a driver was over his hours or when the vehicle was in motion. ELDs are a way to collect data impartially on the accident and may be used to support your side of the story.

For example, let’s say you’re parked at a gas station when a semi truck runs into you. If the trucker insists that he was parked and you ran into him, you’d have to rely on eyewitnesses or hope that there was surveillance footage of the accident. But with ELDs in every truck, authorities will be able to see when the vehicle was in motion and determine whose side of the story the data supports.

This is also helpful for truck drivers. If a car barrels into your truck on the highway and the driver tries to say you were at fault for the accident because you were sleep deprived, your ELD can prove that you were complying with the Hours of Service regulations.

Help from an Indiana Semi Truck Accident Lawyer

We still have a little over a month before FMCSA’s new ELD rule goes into effect, in addition to a six-month phase-in period so trucks without ELDs won’t be put out of service during the transition. Regardless of whether or not the truck had an ELD, you may be struggling to get your insurance company to listen to your side of the story.

An Indiana semi truck accident lawyer can help gather the evidence to support your claim. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free consultation.