A recent study conducted by the University of Arkansas and Northeastern University examined the effects of the FMCSA’s mandated electronic logging device (ELD) on commercial vehicle crash rates. The researchers analyzed detailed data obtained from all federally-recordable crashes and millions of driver roadside inspections that occurred between January 1st, 2017 through September 1, 2018. And what these researchers found is very surprising. There has been no noticeable drop in truck-involved crashes since April 2018 when enforcement of the mandate began.
The study concluded that while compliance to hours of service compliance greatly increased based on the obvious drop in violations, the number of truck-involved crashes did not drop. In fact, the number of accidents may have increased for smaller carriers.
According to one of the researchers, Alex Scott, a supply chain management professor at Northeastern, the research team focused only on ELDs in this study. However, they did also conclude that since the ELD mandate was put into effect, the number of speeding and other unsafe driving violations has increased among small carriers and independent owner-operators. It could be concluded that the reason for this is that drivers are trying to make up for lost time to make up for productivity lost because of the mandate.
The FMCSA is reviewing the study and its data sources just in time for its decision to evaluate its hours of service regulations. This comes as good news for industry groups who are advocating that drivers be allowed to divide their on and off-duty time into segments instead of working on a straight 14-hour clock.