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Will ‘ELD Mandate’ deliver on ‘promise’ of preventing truck accidents and saving lives? Or be undermined by trucking company abuse?

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 9th, 2016

In his article for the American Association for Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group’s Journal, Jordan Jones, Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable Executive Director, analyzes the ‘Electronic Logging Device” amendment to the FMCSRs

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Jordan Jones, the Executive Director of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, has published an article about the ELD Mandate (“electronic logging devices” for commercial trucks) published in the American Association for Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group’s Journal of Trucking Litigation for Summer/Fall 2016.

In the piece, “Deconstructing the ELD Mandate: An Overview of the Rules, Requirements, and Potential Problems on the Horizon,” Jordan assumes the dual roles of optimist and realist.

Referring to the December 2015 amendment to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) which would “require most commercial trucking operations to convert to electronic logging devices (ELDs) in lieu of traditional paper logs which are widely used – and widely abused – today,” Jordan stated:

“[H]opefully, the Mandate will drastically cut back on serious truck and bus accidents, and ultimately save lives.”

However, as an experienced truck crash attorney, Jordan knows the road to truck and bus safety is neither straight nor free from obstructions and roadblocks:

“Although this Mandate represents a bold step forward in transport safety, there are still potential problems. There is room for error, or in the worst cases, flat-out abuse.”

I join Jordan in his optimism for the future of this might, first “bold step forward” toward making the roads safer for everyone – motorists, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, truckers and bus drivers.

As attorneys, we also have a role to play. We need to do everything we can to make sure that everyone – our clients and the public – reap the full safety benefits that the ELD Mandate has the potential to deliver.

What are ELDs or ‘electronic logging devices’?

In his article, Jordan describes ELDs as “devices which track hours of service and electronically record a commercial driver’s record of duty status”

How does the ELD Mandate change things?

The intent behind the ELD Mandate, Jordan explained, is “to improve safety” and “‘improve compliance with the applicable HOS [hours of services, i.e., number of hours per week that a trucker can be driving] rules.’”

Jordan noted that, by December 18, 2017, all motor carriers must have installed the ELDs and be requiring their truckers to use them “‘to record the driver’s duty status.’”

How might trucking companies try to get around the ELD Mandate?

Jordan rightly focuses on one of the trucking industry’s tried-and-true methods for side-stepping federal safety regulations: Intimidation.

Significantly, he writes, the ELD Mandate contains a provision or “safeguard” which “prohibits a motor carrier from harassing drivers used ELDs” by “pressur[ing] a driver to manipulate his or her RODS [records of duty status] … to cheat the HOS …”

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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