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New tracking devices may help prevent semi accidents

Those who drive tractor trailers and commercial buses often work long hours to make more money, but a new proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may change that if it goes through. The plan calls for a requirement that all commercial trucks and buses that cross over state lines have electronic devices that would keep track of how many hours the trucks and buses are being driven. The idea is to cut back on overtired drivers causing truck accidents.

Although most of the well-known trucking companies already have these kinds of devices in their vehicles, the smaller companies and owner-operators -- drivers who also own their own trucks -- are not fans of the devices. According to the president of Advocated for Highway and Auto Safety, this may be partially due to the large amount of pressure placed on drivers to meet unreasonable shipping demands. This means that drivers may drive farther or faster than is safe.

While the American Trucking Association said it supported the proposal, the vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that the devices may not be as great as they sound. He claims that the electronic devices can "harass and coerce" drivers to keep going despite traffic and weather conditions and says that there is no device currently out there that can also satisfy Congress' requirement that the driver's duty status be recorded as well.

The electronic devices, though, would make it harder to falsify records, as is commonly done on paper logbooks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 20 people are killed and 434 injured each year by tired drivers. If the proposal is accepted and these regulations implemented, it could mean big changes for the Wisconsin trucking industry and fewer people facing life-changing injuries.

Source: The News Tribune, "Devices to track truck, bus driver hours proposed" Joan Lowy, Associated Press, Mar. 13, 2014

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