Truck safety is a concern in Virginia and across the nation. This is no surprise given the damage that can result from a collision with one of these large, heavy, fast-moving vehicles. Government agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assess accident statistics, gauge what might have caused them and formulate strategies to reduce accident frequency. One mandate that was expected to help with an accident reduction was requiring that commercial trucks have an electronic logging device (ELD) installed. However, according to the numbers, it has not helped. This should be considered after a truck accident when those involved decide how to move forward.
Researchers try to deduce why ELDs have not reduced truck accidents
The ELD mandate began in December 2017. This device is used to track the truck’s movements and ensure that drivers are not going beyond the legal limits for time on the road. The hope was that accidents would decrease as drivers were unable to go beyond their capacity to be alert and safe. However, a study from the University of Arkansas says that semi-truck accidents have risen even after the ELD mandate largely sabotaging the goal of safer roads. For independent truckers, accidents increased by 11.6%.
In the study, researchers looked at compliance with hours of service; how many accidents there were; and unsafe operation. With the ELD mandate, drivers’ compliance with hours of service did improve. Still, drivers were found to have had more incidents of unsafe driving. This is generally connected to drivers speeding to make up for time they might lose by adhering to the limits for time they can spend on the road. Accidents are up in general. For the first six months of 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there was the highest increase in fatalities since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was created.
Truck accidents can lead to long-term challenges that need to be addressed
As experts sift through the data to determine why the number of truck accidents has gotten worse since the ELD mandate, people should be cognizant of certain realities. One is that accidents can happen at any time regardless of attempts on the part of legislators and regulatory agencies to make the roads safer. Catastrophic and fatal injuries can result when there is an accident involving a large truck. The financial, physical and personal consequences are extensive. Determining the cause – whether it was distraction, driving under the influence, speeding or flouting the hours-of-service rules – are all factors to consider. It is important to have advice from the outset to decide how to proceed.