Safety Benefits of Electronic Hours of Service Recorders

November 17, 2015 by Carina Ockedahl, @Ockis9

Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a report regarding the safety benefits of electronic hours-of-service (HOS) recorders on commercial motor vehicles (CMV). The final rule on whether or not these digital logging devices should be mandatory is still pending, but it’s worth noting that the review points to these systems are more advantageous than not.

The report, based on a study conducted by the Center for Truck and Bus Safety Virginia Tech Transportation Institute for the FMCSA, is meant to evaluate the (potential) safety advantages of electronic HOS recorders (EHSRs) in Class 7 and 8 trucks versus comparable CMVs that do not have these systems installed.

Much of the data falls in favor of EHSRs, since the vehicle group featuring such devices had a significantly lower total crash rate (11.7 percent) and preventable crash rate (5.1 percent reduction) when compared to the non-EHSR-equipped group. The total rate also included fatigue-related collisions.

FMCSA’s review also found that the EHSR-equipped group was less likely to have driving- and non-driving-related HOS violations by 53 percent and 49 percent respectively, compared to the other group.

Overall, the study incorporated information from 11 companies representing small, medium, and large carriers, which together drove a total of 15.6 billion miles and had a total 82,943 crashes and 970 HOS violations over a five-year period— equivalent to a timespan of 224,034 years worth of driving (truck-years). That being said, the data in this study was skewed toward larger, for-hire carriers and “may not represent the overall U.S. trucking population,” says the FMCSA.

Still, the results point to EHSR-equipped trucks as being safer than the alternative, in terms of crash and HOS-violation reductions. What’s more, a previous (and somewhat similar) 2009 study by Cantor, which included 100-percent EHSR-adoption in trucks (based on surveys and other data), also noted significant reductions in crashes and HOS violations. The overall findings of both reports underscores the safety benefits of EHSRs.

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