Drivers of vehicles made before 2000 can continue to use paper logbooks.
The rule aims to reduce fatigue-related crashes by drivers who may have doctored their paper logs to hide the real hours they have driven beyond what regulations allow."Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify," said U. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing the rule on Dec.10, 2015."This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk," Foxx said.A truck driver reviews his handwritten daily logbook of work hours at a rest area in Maryland.Since 1938, drivers have been allowed to self-report their on-duty/off-duty time this way.The paper logs are often called "comic books" because they are easy to falsify to hide the fact that drivers have been on the road longer than federal rules allow without rest.
Studies of long-distance truckers indicate that work rules commonly are flouted.Hours-of-service regulations govern how much time truck drivers can be on the road and when and for how long they need to rest.Although the current regulations allow too much time on the road — up to 11 hours a shift and up to 77 hours over 7 days — better compliance would likely reduce the number of tired drivers (see "Truckers still need more rest than plan allows," April 26, 2011, and "Final hours-of-service rule leaves 11-hour shift intact," Jan. Requiring all truckers to use ELDs also levels the playing field by removing any competitive advantage to violating work rules compared with carriers who follow the rules, industry representatives say.In turn, that should help ensure that drivers overall are more rested and alert when they return to the road.If the rule survives a legal challenge, commercial truck and bus drivers currently required to record their duty hours must start using compliant ELDs by December 2017.The rule exempts short-haul drivers who use time cards.