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Making our roads safer from truck driver fatigue

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, big rig safety has improved due to the growing use of onboard computers. Can it become even safer? The article says further improvements are likely as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently working on creating rules that would require all interstate buses and trucks to use these onboard computers.

What exactly do these onboard computers do? For starters, they synch with the vehicle's engine in order to track and log driving time. This helps prevent truck drivers from driving too many hours consecutively, reducing the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Unlike handwritten logs, which can be falsified, it would be difficult to manipulate an onboard computer.

Truck drivers already have strict rules to follow, such as working for no more than 14 hours per day, with only 11 of those hours spent driving. They also have to take regular breaks during their driving shift and are required to have 10 consecutive hours of free time between each shift. Other benefits of the computerized system are less paperwork for the truck drivers and digital interfacing with the home office so the office knows where the drivers are, how long they've been driving and information about their breaks.

Currently, about 35 percent of truck drivers who use the nation's interstate roadways use the digital logging system, but the FMCSA wants to raise that figure to 100 percent. The administration believes onboard computers and logging will reduce or even eliminate serious truck accidents like the one that recently injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one other.

Until then, truck and semi accidents will probably still occur, but even that can provide some form of good. If more people work with America's personal injury attorneys to pursue legal action when a truck accident occurs, our lawmakers might be more inclined to create and enforce stricter trucking rules.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "How to make big trucks safer" No author given, Jun. 23, 2014

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