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New Gov. Rule Requires Truck Drivers To Log Traveling Time

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--A big change for the trucking industry. In an effort to prevent the growing problem of deadly accidents, truck drivers will soon have to electronically record how much time they spend on the road.

WJZ's Amy Yensi has the details.

Each year, truck accidents kill nearly 4,000 people and shatter countless lives.

In August 2010, a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel, killing Susan Slattery of Cockeysville--her son, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Studies show driver fatigue is to blame for more than third of deadly truck crashes. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 65% of truckers say they feel drowsy while driving.

A new government rule aims to change that by requiring commercial truck and bus drivers, to keep electronic records of their time behind the wheel.

Drivers have been using paper log books since the 1930's. Accident investigators and safety advocates have long complained the records are easily tampered with and hard to verify.

Louis Campion, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association says the new rule is only one part of the solution.

"Electronic logging devices only record your hours of service, how much you are driving. They really aren't a fatigue management system," he says.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says the electronic logging devices will save one billion dollars, over two dozen lives and prevent over 500 injuries each year.

Smart phones and other wireless devices, can be used to record driving hours--as long as they meet the technical criteria and are approved by the agency.

Retired truck driver, Mark Gibson says drivers should decide.

"A driver himself only knows when he's tired. Not an electronic log book or a person sitting behind a desk," said Gibson

The rule goes into effect in 60 days, and gives companies two years after that to start using the devices.

Companies which have previously installed recording devices that meet current standards but don't meet requirements of the new rule can continue to use them for four years.

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