While the federal electronic log device (ELD) law has been in effect for nearly two years—it mandated compliance by December 18, 2017—intrastate truckers were not required to follow the new laws. Texas is one of the first states to implement an ELD law for intrastate truckers, and more states will likely do so in the future. Texas truckers must begin using ELDs by December 19, 2019. Texas regulations closely follow federal regulations for minimum ELD specifications.
What Is an ELD?
An ELD performs many functions, including:
- Recording driving time
- Monitoring the time a driver spends at any particular location
- Monitoring the hours the engine is running
- Monitoring the miles a trucker drives and the truck’s movement
- Giving roadside safety inspectors information snapshots to monitor for violations; and
- Creating a detailed record of a truck’s load status, including detention, loading, and unloading hours.
Federal hours of service regulations require truckers to take a 10-hour break after 11 hours of driving time or 14 hours of on-duty time, whether or not those hours were spent driving. Should a driver get caught up in a traffic jam, get slowed by weather, or experience other delays, mandatory rest time can delay a trucker’s arrival time at their final destination.
Texas exempts intrastate truckers from hours of service regulations if they are hauling agricultural products within 150 air miles of the point of the product’s origin or the product’s point of distribution during harvest season.
Federal exemptions (pg. 78295) to the ELD Mandate include:
- Short-haul drivers who are not otherwise required to keep time logs.
- Drivers who record their hours on paper logs for no more than 8 days during any 30 day period.
- Drivers who move vehicles from one location to another without cargo.
- Trucks that were manufactured before 2000, because most of those trucks do not have compatible computers installed. An ELD requires a truck’s computer to operate. These drivers must still use paper logs. They also may voluntarily elect to use an ELD if the truck does have a compatible computer.
- If a truck that was manufactured prior to 2000 gets a new engine that was manufactured after 2000, that truck must comply with the ELD Mandate since the new engine will have a compatible computer.
Estimated Accident Reductions
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that ELDs will keep the roads safer by:
- Helping prevent 1,844 crashes each year
- Resulting in 562 fewer injuries each year; and
- Saving 26 lives every year.
Federal studies have found that truckers who drive more than 11 hours per day are more likely to cause an accident. When regulators limited trucker’s hours of service, the number of accidents involving trucks dropped. However, truckers who use paper logs are able to “fudge” their hours, resulting in accidents related to driver fatigue. Because ELDs cannot be fudged, more drivers will be forced to follow the hours of service mandate and the roads will be safer as a result.
Austin, Texas saw 179 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles between January 1 and June 8, 2019. San Antonio saw 1,244 crashes involving commercial motor vehicles in the same time period. Semi-trailer truck crashes are usually worse than other types of motor vehicle wrecks, and often result in serious injuries or fatalities because trucks are so big and heavy in comparison to passenger vehicles.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
In many cases, people in a passenger vehicle who are hit by a big rig are hurt badly enough that they can’t do anything except wait for first responders. However, if they are able to, they should:
- Call 9-1-1 right away, and wait for the police to arrive.
- Take pictures of the accident from all angles.
- Exchange information with the truck driver—this will be more extensive than the information people exchange in accidents between regular passenger vehicles. This information should include all of the information off of the driver’s CDL license, the driver’s contact information, the truck owner’s contact information, as well as the operator’s and/or distributor’s contact information. In many cases, these are three different people or companies. In some cases, an owner/operator may be driving under a contract with a distributor.
- Let their insurance company know that they were in a wreck.
- Get medical attention even if they do not feel that they are hurt. Often, injuries show up hours or days later.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. While truck accident victims can choose to deal with insurance companies on their own, truck accidents are complicated and an attorney may be able to help get the victims full compensation for their injuries.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. This means that they will offer the lowest amount of money possible to settle a claim. Frankly, insurance companies do not care about people or their injuries. They only care about their bottom line. An experienced truck accident attorney can help ensure that the insurance company pays the truck accident victims a fair amount for their injuries and any other damages they suffered in the accident.
Never Admit Fault
If you are ever in an accident with a semi-trailer truck, even if you believe you are partially at fault for the accident, never admit fault to others involved in the accident, to witnesses, or to an insurance company or police officer. Be careful about what you say so you don’t implicate yourself. You should not lie about what happened—just don’t say, “It was my fault” or “It was partially my fault.” Even if you were at fault, you may be eligible for damages if you and the truck driver shared fault in the accident.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer for More Information
If you or a loved one was in an accident with a semi-trailer truck, and you need help filing a claim, a truck crash lawyer can provide you with more information and a plan for moving forward—perhaps by acquiring the ELD to see if the driver violated hours of service limits or other laws or regulations. Contact the legal team at The Law Offices of George Salinas online or call our office in San Antonio at (210) 944-8584 today.