For commercial truck drivers in Florida, fatigue has long been an identified risk and safety hazard. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted what it calls its Hours of Service rule to tackle trucker fatigue and improve safety. Essentially, the Hours of Service rule places limits on how many hours in a day or work week a trucker may work or drive. It also outlines provisions for when rest breaks must be taken and for how long those rest periods must last.
To force increased and documented compliance with the HoS rule, the FMCSA has also issued a requirement for truckers to use electronic logging devices to record their driving and stopped times. The ELD mandate has been somewhat controversial within the trucking industry but a collaborative study looking at the impact of this rule was conducted by researchers from three universities across the country. The results might be surprising to some.
When it comes to compliance with the use of electronic logging devices, the results show a definite positive result among drivers of all categories including those who work for large transportation carriers as well as drivers who own and operate their own vehicles. Compliance increased during times of both light and strict rule enforcement. When it comes to safety, however, the results are not as positive.
The number of accidents and unsafe driving violations increased for owner-operators during both light and strict rule enforcement periods. Some experts believe that the HoS rule might be forcing these drivers to take risks to complete their work in the designated time.