semi truck accidents in houston texas


In December of 2017, the long-awaited deadline to be in compliance with the new ELD laws finally arrives. This law, designed as part of the ongoing effort to increase roadway safety by reducing semi truck accidents, requires that all drivers and companies use approved electronic logging devices or ELDs by the end of the year.

Research on accident causation suggests that many semi truck crashes can be prevented with better adherence to hours-of-service or HOS laws. The ELD law addresses the main challenges with HOS compliance and hopes to see reduced semi truck wrecks by ensuring that all drivers are using a reliable record-keeping method.

ELD Will Fully Replace Logbooks

Although the ELD mandate by FMCSA went into effect in December of 2015, there has been a two-year "ease-in" compliance period for commercial carrier companies and drivers. You may already be in compliance with this law by having implemented the necessary technology and ELD devices in your vehicle; however, there are some drivers and fleets who have not done this.

The deadline for all drivers to replace paper logbooks with ELDs as a part of a safety plan to reduce semi truck accidents is right around the corner. Inspection stations are already preparing for these changes.

Important Concerns with ELDs and Compliance

ELDs make recording your Record of Duty Service (RODS) easier and falsifying this information more difficult. By ensuring that drivers are only on the road as many hours as legally permitted, the risk of semi truck crashes goes down substantially. To ensure compliance, drivers and fleet managers must also consider the following points:

1. Device Compliance

Although there is a wide selection of devices you can use to track RODS including onboard devices, smartphones, and tablets, all must meet FMCSA compliance. Ensuring that devices are compliant and work with a carrier’s fleet system to promote safety and reduce semi truck wrecks is the responsibility of the driver and company. Although some companies already have ELDs set to perform certain functions, they do not meet FMCSA requirements. Drivers and carriers must work together to choose systems and devices that collectively work best for everyone.

2. Supporting Documentation

Overall, although ELDs are more reliable and do more to ensure compliance that will hopefully result in fewer semi truck accidents, they are not infallible. According to the new ELD rule, drivers are still required to keep certain manual records for a specified number of days just in case. Receipts must still be either converted to an electronic format or submitted in hardcopy to help verify on-duty time not actually spent driving.

3. ELDs and Inspections

To comply with roadside inspections, drivers must have the user manual available for their ELD and be able to provide a log that is requested to the inspector. This may be required by using Bluetooth or USB transfer or with a log print-out if a printer is available. Essentially, you must be prepared to provide logs in multiple formats should they be requested.

4. Exemptions

There are three exemptions to the new ELD law where trucks are not required to have ELDs as follows:

  • Trucks made prior to 1999 that do not have the technology required to run the necessary onboard monitoring systems.
  • Trucks driven for tow-away or drive-away operations that deliver new trucks.
  • Trucks driven for companies where drivers must punch in and out using a timecard. In an effort to uphold HOS laws and reduce semi truck crashes, drivers may still be required to keep a manual log.

Although total implementation of this technology and roadside safety inspections will likely involve a learning curve as everyone becomes accustomed to new procedures and policies, you should expect everything to be in full swing by December 2017. The push for safer roads and fewer semi truck accidents is taking the next step forward with final implementation of the ELD rule.

If you have not chosen or have not yet begun using such a device, now is the time to do so. If you already use an ELD, December marks the point where your RODS must be in compliance with the safety parameters designed to reduce semi truck wrecks!

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP

Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581

Phone: (281) 408-2190