Officials are now saying that the government must require the trucking industry to use electronic onboard recorders to ensure truck drivers comply with the federal “hours-of-service” regulation, according to a Gannett News Service report published in the Indianapolis Star.
According to most recent statistics available, large trucks — delivery vans to 18-wheelers — were involved in 5,000 fatal accidents on U.S. highways and 82,000 crashes where someone was injured; all over the course of one year. Experts say drowsy truck drivers who have been behind the wheel for long periods of time caused a large percentage of those crashes in 2005.
Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the news agency in an interview last week that the government must mandate onboard recorders to make sure trucking companies do not allow their drivers to work more than they should be working.
“You want to have a truck that’s the safest it possibly can be mechanically,” he said. “Just as important, (the driver) needs to be alert. When he shows up for work, he or she cannot be fatigued.”
The NTSB, an independent federal agency, has been recommending these devices for the last 30 years, but the U.S. government so far, has not adopted the agency’s recommendations. Rosenker says the primary reason for that is cost. Also, he says, a lot of companies prefer to have paper logs in order to “skirt the issue.” With a monitoring device, there is no question of circumventing the issue. As the wheels turn and the truck is operating, a punch-in card would record how long the trucker has been operating. This would make it impossible for the driver or the trucking company to falsify hours.
There is absolutely no question that all trucks should start using these monitoring devices, not just one-time and repeat violators. Numbers don’t lie. Big rigs are dangerous simply because of their size and overwhelming presence on the freeway. Earlier this month, a Mission Viejo family lost three young children after the family’s minivan got rear-ended by a big rig loaded with electronic equipment. The driver in that case wasn’t falling asleep, but that incident goes to show the effect that truck crashes can have. They are often fatal.
Mandating these monitoring devices is the least the government can do to make sure trucking companies are conducting business in an honest and professional manner. More than anything else, such a requirement will save thousands of lives each year. Is that not reason enough to do it? If you or a loved one has been injured by a truck accident or a big rig accident, call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-800-259-6373 for a free consultation.