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Trucks with electronic logs have fewer crashes, study finds

A study conducted for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that trucks operated with electronic hours-of-service recorders (EHSRs) had a 11.7% lower crash rate than those not so equipped and a 5.1% lower crash rate for preventable crashes. The study, conducted for FMCSA by the Center for Truck and Bus Safety at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, comes with the disclaimer that the data was skewed toward larger for-hire carriers and may not represent the overall U.S. trucking population.

FMCSA announced in a May 12 Federal Register notice that the report evaluating the safety benefits of electronic logs had been placed into the docket on the proposed rule related to electronic logging devices and supporting documents for hours-of-service compliance.

While the Virginia Tech researchers were able to find statistically significant differences in overall crash rate and crash rates in the category of preventable crashes, small sample sizes limited their ability to detect a significant difference in the categories of Dept. of Transportation-recordable and fatigue-related crashes.

Not surprisingly given EHSRs’ primary function, the study found that trucks equipped with EHSRs were 53% less likely to have driving-related HOS violations and 49% less likely to have non-driving HOS violations.

The study included data from 11 carriers representing small, medium and large carriers, including a total of 82,943 crashes, 970 HOS violations and 224,034 truck-years that drove a total of 15.6 billion miles.

The report’s authors said that its results square reasonably with those in a 2009 study that was based on a far more representative sample of carriers but did not include exposure metrics or identify specific trucks that were equipped with EHSRs. “Taken together, the current study and the above-referenced 2009 study clearly show a safety benefit for EHSRs with respect to crashes and HOS violations,” the report concludes.

A copy of the report, Evaluating the Potential Safety Benefits of Electronic Hours-of-Service Recorders Final Report, is available at by searching FMCSA–2010–0167. Then click on the ‘‘Open Docket Folder’’ button and choose the document under the “Supporting Documents” section.

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