Technological improvements have made it possible for a business to monitor nearly all aspects of a truck’s daily activities. Speed, location, sudden braking and even the sharpness of turns may all be monitored and recorded. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are prudent for businesses using commercial trucks to monitor the risky activities of drivers. The use of ELDs is mandatory in many circumstances under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).[i]
Businesses required to use ELDs or those thinking of voluntarily using ELDs have two broad choices in systems. To meet the minimum requirements of the FMCSR, “location data must be recorded by an ELD at 60-minute intervals when the vehicle is in motion, and when the driver powers up and shuts down the engine, changes duty status, and indicates personal use or yard moves.”[ii] A number of ELD manufacturers sell systems that track and record only the minimum data required. Conversely, many manufacturers sell systems that track and record a much wider array of location, engine and driver behavior data at intervals of seconds. This data can be used to provide feedback to drivers and improve driver behavior. The potential to improve driver behavior and reduce what, in many cases, is the largest safety-related risk is incredibly attractive to many businesses. However, some businesses are hesitant to adopt these systems because of the perceived legal risk.
In litigation involving a commercial truck, a shrewd personal injury lawyer will cite an employer’s failure to maintain ELD data and/or failure to take prompt action against hazardous drivers as evidence of negligence. Confusion exists regarding when ELD devices must be implemented, how the electronic data must be retained, and the liability exposure that possession of ELD data creates for the business. This article addresses the five most common points of confusion.
[i] 49 C.F.R. § 390.1, et seq.
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