Electronic recording of truck drivers' hours-of-service evaluated

August 10, 2012
Trucks on Interstate-81

(Phys.org) -- Safe operation of commercial vehicles depends upon drivers receiving enough sleep. But how to monitor that drivers are complying with hours-of-service requirements? Electronic onboard recording may be the solution. With funding from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institution are looking at the safety records for drivers and fleets who have been using the technology.

Scientific research concerning needs has resulted in updated hours-of-service requirements for commercial motor vehicle . As of 2005, regulations limit the to 14 hours, with a limit of 11 hours of driving.

Traditionally, ’ hours of service were recorded with paper logs; however, FMCSA says they would like to mandate the use of devices to electronically monitor compliance with regulations. “A requirement to use electronic onboard recorders was withdrawn because of potential misuse and questions about whether the devices actually increase compliance and safety,” said Jeff Hickman, occupational health and safety expert at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Hickman, the leader of the behavioral analysis and applications group in the Center for Truck and Bus Safety, has been awarded a grant by FMCSA to “evaluate the potential benefits of electronic onboard recorders.” His team will also look at whether such devices improve compliance with hours-of-service regulations, how many operators and fleets use them, how much they cost to install and operate, and whether there are other benefits of the devices.

Hickman specializes in assessing driver behavior, fatigue, work/rest cycles, and driver distraction in commercial motor operations. “For this research project, we will look at crash and vehicle data to determine whether trucks with electronic onboard recorders have a significantly lower crash rate than those without,”  he said. “Our database will also allow us to look at preventable crashes and crashes that have been designated as fatigue related.”

The project will also include department of transportation-recorded crash rates and hours-of-service violation rates for vehicles with and without electronic onboard recording devices.

Study results will be reported by late 2013.

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1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2012
Electronic recording devices would end the unconstitutional requirement that drivers testify against themselves by filling out a paper log book. While the sleep research has valid points the motivation for the reaserch is revenue and not safety, For example you can be 90 years old with a bad heart and get in a motorhome and drive for 20 hours straight. There are little or no safety inspection programs for private vehicles so there hundreds of thousands of potential accidents driving on the road everyday and some will be involved with trucks.
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
Well, I see where you are coming from but it's a little different when you could be carrying caustic or explosive chemicals in a truck, vs you and your family in an RV. You can only kill a few people, whereas the wrong chemical could make a super fund site in minutes.

And I don't know about testify against themselves, because it's just like punching into work and writing down when you got there and when you left, it's so you get paid correctly.

Plus driving a truck is much harder, and you can't jackknife an RV.

And I don't think it is for revenue, because they wouldn't want the technology, because on paper they can forge the times, but with electronic monitoring you shouldn't be able to fake it.

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