Drowsy Driving.org warns us that "sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination." A tired motorist is a menace on the road, because fatigue can slow down reaction time and decrease awareness of what is going on around you. Fatigue can also cause impaired judgment. All of this means that a fatigued driver has a greater risk of causing an auto accident.
In most situations, prevention of drowsy driving accidents is very difficult. Most people won't admit they have been driving too long or are falling asleep behind the wheel. There is no objective test for this, like a breathalyzer test. It would be impossible, not to mention unpopular, to pass a law mandating a driver limit the number of hours behind the wheel without taking a rest. While this is true for general drivers, however, it is not true for truckers.
Preventing Drowsy Driving Accidents Using Electronic Logging Devices
There are laws in place limiting the hours truckers can operate their vehicles. There are many different Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations related to the maximum number of hours per day on duty, the maximum number of hours a trucker can drive daily without a rest break, and the maximum number of hours over a seven day or eight day period a trucker can drive.
In order to make certain that truck drivers and trucking companies obey these myriad rules on drive time, truckers are required by law to keep logs of their on duty time. However, these paper logs are vulnerable to manipulation and inaccuracies. This leaves open the possibility that a trucker will fail to fully report hours driven so the they can continue to drive for longer than the law allows. Because there is a truck driver shortage in the United States, there is also the possibility that a trucking company is going to want truckers to falsify their logs so they can drive for long enough to get shipments in on time.
A new regulation going into effect is going to put an end to the problem of drivers not tracking their time correctly. The new rule was promulgated in 2015 and truckers and trucking companies have until December 2017 to comply. The rule requires almost all truckers put electronic logging devices into their trucks. There are only a few limited exceptions, such as for drivers who operate trucks only a few days a month or for drivers with trucks that are older than 2000 models. The rule is called the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.
The ELD mandate contains certain protection for truckers, including provisions to make sure that the electronic logging device cannot be used to harass the trucker. However, the basic purpose of the mandate is to ensure accurate data is kept regarding hours on duty. With more accurate information that cannot be tampered with, hopefully fewer truckers will drive when they shouldn't and the roads will be safer.