It can be scary enough to drive past a large semi-truck while you are out on the road. Getting into an accident with one can be terrifying. With more weight behind the collision, a semi can do a lot more damage, no matter what kind of car you are driving.
Getting into an accident with a semi used to mean going through paper log books that may or may not have accurate records of how driving the driver has done. More recently, most drivers have changed over to Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) that are registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), but all will have to make the change by the end of 2019.
Here’s what the implementation of ELDs means for people involved in an accident with a commercial driver.
Access to electronic logs is a place to start
The process of determining who is at fault can be complicated. No one wants to bear the responsibility of such a substantial collision. The truck driver, especially, has a lot to lose since an at-fault accident could mean losing their job.
Even though it is only one part of the picture, the electronic logs are a place to start looking at what caused the accident. While there are drivers who can stay on the road for hours at a time, it is far more likely that a driver who has spent more time driving is more likely to make a mistake.
The logs are still not perfect
Truck drivers face a lot of pressure to get their trailers from one place to another in a certain amount of time. While that allowance includes the mandatory breaks drivers must take, it often does not leave room for slowdowns and unexpected breaks the driver might need.
Before ELDs, some drivers were known to alter their log books so that it looked like they had taken all of the required breaks, even if they had not. The problem is that drivers who have not taken their breaks are more likely to get tired and make mistakes.
Electronic logging helps with this problem, but there the driver that hit you may still have been overworked, and the ELD may not tell the whole story.
Will ELDs help?
The short answer here is, maybe. On the one hand, the purpose is to make sure that drivers can take the breaks they need without their bosses encouraging them to drive through. On the other hand, like anything, there can be more factors to an accident than simply a drowsy trucker or one who didn’t take a required break.