Driver fatigue is a frequent cause of truck accidents. How frequent is a matter of opinion.
But more facts are on the way to creating informed opinions thanks to the Federal Motor Safety Administration’s new Compliance Safety Accountability Program. Safety reporting is the defining feature of this program. One of my favorite aspects is the use of electronic on-board recovery. The new rule requires trucking companies who have violation rates of 10% or higher, with reference to discrepancies in time spent on the road and time recorded in their logs, to install recorders in all of their vehicles.
Clearly, the home run play would be to require electronic trucking logs in every vehicle. The problem of falsifying trucking logs has been well-known by truck accident lawyers for years. But proof is hard to come by. Unfortunately, transportation has not bounced back like the rest of the economy yet and there is little inertia in the Obama administration to take any action to increase transportation costs.
But maybe this lever will help. Trucking companies are now going to bring new pressure to bear on their drivers to keep accurate logs. Does this mean logs cannot be falsified? No. So this is not going to provide truck accident lawyers looking for harder evidence a ton of new opportunity to prove the driver fatigue case. In fact, it might just make our jobs more complicated because we all need to better understand the new electronic reports (and how they too can be altered). But while maybe not providing a boon to attorneys, this new rule might do an even better thing: prevent cases from getting to us in the first place.