Lawmakers in Washington are currently trying to enact a measure as part of the transportation bill that would require all commercial trucks to be outfitted with electronic on-board receivers— which act as a traditional GPS device, but record activity. Both congressmen and citizens are split on the idea of having big brother inside of every commercial truck in the nation, but the devices only record when the truck moves, and for how long. Critics believe that the costs outweigh the financial burden on truck companies and drivers, but if drivers could no longer falsify their logs, would it prevent truck accidents that are the result of fatigue?
Critics Claim the Cost Of Truck Safety Technology Outweighs the Benefit To Other Motorists
Each device would cost roughly $1,500 and naysayers claim that this would be an unjust tax on the many owner operators in the industry who would need to purchase the devices themselves. Larger trucking companies would be less affected due to the fact that they have already begun implementing the use of similar technology in order to better track their shipments. Therefore, critics say that the law would make smaller companies less competitive by forcing them to take on an additional financial burden.
Another argument is that the devices would fail to prevent accidents, meaning that they provide no real benefit at all. The cost on the industry would exceed $2 billion each year and the data could only be used to tell if a driver had violated laws regarding how many hours he or she can drive or be on duty in a day. Critics claim that the devices only gather information regarding when the truck is actually moving, so it would be impossible to prove whether or not the truck driver was on duty waiting for a load or sitting at a truck stop while the truck showed as parked.
Enforcement of the Truck Operation Laws May Prevent Others from Breaking It
The electronic on-board receivers may not be able to tell authorities when a driver is sleeping or on duty most of the time, but they do reveal locations and record how long the driver has been on the road. If recorded data showed the truck at a warehouse for several hours, it could be used as evidence that the truck was stopped, but the driver was still on duty. In the event of an accident the data recorded on the device would help determine whether or not the driver was fatigued at the time of the accident.
Another benefit of the new technology would be the ability to enforce the law by catching drivers who are on the road longer than 11 hours straight. Enforcing the law will inevitably encourage more truck drivers to follow it and without the ability to falsify their logs, the law will finally be enforced on those who have cheated the system for so long. It wouldn’t prevent accidents directly, but there would be fewer drivers on the road who are fatigued.
Opponents of legislation requiring this technology continue to argue about the cost of the devices to small businesses and owner operators but the devices are not un-affordable. It is true that the entire industry would be required to spend $2 billion per year, but when it is broken down per driver, it comes to $1,500. That is a small price to pay to save a life.