The agony and sadness of losing a family member is always heartbreaking. This is especially true for families where the breadwinners are the unfortunate ones to pass away.

Not only would the ones left have to cope with the pain of losing a loved one, but they would also need to figure out how to move forward with all the financial hurdles, all while having to carry an unbearable sorrow and loneliness.

This heartbreaking tragedy is a scene that’s all too familiar to the family of truck drivers.

The mortality rate of truck drivers is so high that Wikipedia reported at one point how“Truck drivers are five times more likely to die in a work-related accident than the average worker.”

The message is a dead giveaway of how there is a looming problem in the trucking industry when it comes to ensuring safety of truck drivers.

What’s worse?

The traffic fatality this year is only increasing.

‘The Road to Zero’ campaign to eliminate road deaths

During a conference organized by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to introduce ’The Road to Zero’ campaign — an initiative that aims to take traffic fatalities to 0 within 30 years — the DOT (Department of Transportation) mentions how they will spend $3 million for the next three years for the campaign.

They plan on giving out $1 million per year to organizations who can help them improve traffic safety.

In addition to providing grants to organizations, however, the DOT will also look into the old methods of improving drivers’ safety like changing the drivers’ behavior and promoting the use of seat belts (among other things).

They will also be strengthening the Four E’s of traffic safety — Enforcement, Engineering, Education and Emergency Medical Services.

Their move to put more emphasis on the Four E’s is a solid strategy since each of its components has done quite well in contributing to the decline of vehicle crashes and injury rates throughout the years.

These are some of the results accomplished by the Four E’s approach:

  • Nevada benefitted from a massive 41% decrease in their roadway fatalities at one point.
  • The “Click it or Ticket” campaign managed to trigger a whopping 85% use of seat belts nationwide, which translates to about 72,000 lives saved between 2005 and 2009 alone.

How ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) can help

Another feasible approach that the government is using to take a step towards safeguarding the welfare of truck drivers is the implementation of using ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices).

Just recently, the OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) challenged the ELD mandate to have it overthrown by filing a lawsuit on behalf of 2 of their trucker members. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled against them.

Because the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) won the ELD mandate case against OOIDA, the December 17, 2017, deadline for the unexempt trucking companies to start using ELDs remains unaltered.

The court’s decision to uphold the ELD mandate sends two strong messages to the trucking industry:

  1. They are serious about protecting the lives of the drivers.
  2. The use of ELDs is a concrete solution to adopt when it comes to protecting truck drivers as well as everyone else on the road.

These are some of the ways the ELDs can protect CMV drivers.

1. Get real-time alerts for vehicle faults

Because ELDs can detect fault codes, drivers and fleet managers are able to foresee service or maintenance needs.

This particular feature plays a crucial role in making sure that truck drivers aren’t driving vehicles with low-pressure tires (among other defects) which can easily lead them to road accidents.

Proper maintenance of vehicles ensures a safer ride and overall driving experience with a minimized chance of accidents.

2. Drivers can keep track of their hours

Fatigue can cause drivers’ performance to deteriorate. When their fatigue levels reach dangerous heights, they experience inattention, drowsiness, and they end up having a slow reaction time (among many other things) — all of which may lead to road accidents.

Hours-of-service rules keep drivers from experiencing excessive fatigue, as it imposes duty limits in terms of how long they work. With this regulation in place, drivers are required to take a break after a certain time, preventing them from overworking and feeling fatigued.

Because ELDs are connected to the engine of the trucks, it can automatically track the time drivers have been driving. Electronic logging devices — or free e-log mobile apps — can send alerts to drivers when a violation is approaching.

Electronic logging ensures that drivers don’t have to do lots of manual paperwork to keep track of their driving time. They receive automatic alerts of upcoming violations, so they can focus more on what they do best, i.e., driving.

3. Real-time communication between drivers and fleet managers

Real-time communication between drivers and fleet managers is very important. When drivers encounter emergencies or any kind of problems while they’re on the road, they should be able to send fleet managers messages in real-time.

This is achievable with electronic logging devices and free e-log apps for mobile devices.

The instant messaging feature can be used for multiple purposes:

  • To identify any roadblocks or bad weather conditions to drivers.
  • To communicate an important out-of-the-blue situation.
  • To seek immediate help in case of emergencies.

And much more.

As ELDs and e-log apps continue to evolve, these messaging apps are improving all the time. For instance, the Motive electronic logging device has several modern messaging features, such as sending messages to individual drivers, broadcasting a message to multiple drivers, getting notified when a message is delivered or seen, and sharing images and documents with drivers — all in real-time.

4. ELDs protect drivers from harassment and coercion

Some carriers, brokers, or shippers force their drivers to work more than the required hours of service per week. As you can probably imagine, this can lead to all sorts of problems down the line like driver fatigue or road accidents.

The ELDs can protect the drivers from being harassed since the ELD rule enables the drivers to file harassment complaints to their carriers if they are forced to work while they are ill or fatigued. The carriers can be slapped with a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

We wrote a detailed blog post that discusses how FMCSA’s new driver coercion rule protects CMV drivers.

5. Fleet managers can monitor driving habits

In some cases, the drivers aren’t aware of their dangerous driving habits mainly because they are hard-working and are dead focused on their work. Because of this, it becomes almost impossible for them to be corrected since no one can point out the problem.

Through electronic logging devices, fleet managers are now able to monitor the performances of their drivers.

ELDs can identify if the drivers are involved in excessive acceleration, hard braking, or hard cornering. This allows fleet managers to point out dangerous driving habits to drivers, allowing them the opportunity to make the necessary changes.

Take the next steps to a safer fleet

DOT’s initiative and the use of ELDs will surely play a crucial role in reducing driver workplace fatalities.

Because drivers’ lives matter the most, we need to take whatever steps we can make to increase the safety of drivers while at work. Otherwise, we will never be able to stop unfortunate accidents that happen all the time.

Do you want to be a part of the ‘Road to Zero’ campaign? Then please spread the word. It could mean saving valuable lives.

You can also download — or share — our free mobile app for truck drivers. It is available for iPhone and Android.

Additionally, if you are a fleet manager who wants to see what ELDs can do for your trucking companies, request a demo. One of our product specialists will get in touch with you with all the necessary details.