Abels & Annes

Mandated data recorders for truckers could reduce number of Chicago car accidents

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers hail the government’s long-overdue decision to require data recorders to track hours of service for long-haul truckers.

Fatigued truck drivers are a significant danger throughout Illinois and increase the risk of car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 380,000 large trucks were involved in accidents in 2008, claiming more than 4,000 lives and injuring 90,000.
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For decades, the government has relied upon a system of hand-written log books to enforce hours-of-service regulations. The rules limit the hours per day and per week that a trucker can remain behind the wheel. When combined with the fact that truckers are typically paid by the mile — and therefore make the most money for traveling the furthest distance in the shortest amount of time — the antiquated system has become a mockery that is ripe for abuse and routinely exposes innocent motorists to exhausted drivers barreling down the highway in 80,000 pound tractor trailers.

“We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed hours-of-service rules,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This proposal would make our roads safer by ensuring that carriers traveling across state lines are using EOBRs to track the hours their drivers spend behind the wheel.”

The electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) are in use by several carriers nationwide and can be mandated for truckers or trucking companies that are found in violation of hours-of-service rules. But the new regulations will mandate the recorders for 500,000 carriers nationwide. Violations could result in a fine of up to $11,000.

“This proposal is an important step in our efforts to raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We believe broader use of EOBRs would give carriers and drivers an effective tool to strengthen their HOS compliance.”

Safety organizations — including Road Safe America, which was founded by parents who lost their child in an accident with a tractor-trailer, have been pushing for the move for years.

The organization is now encouraging the government to use the data recorders in conjunction with mechanical speed-limiters, saying the two issues go hand-in-hand.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle in Chicago, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.