On January 27, 2014, a crash involving a tractor trailer and two other vehicles resulted in the death of an Illinois Tollway worker, left an Illinois State Police trooper severely injured. 39-year-old Vincent Petrella had parked his tollway vehicle beside a disabled tractor trailer on Interstate 88 and was soon joined by state trooper Douglas Balder. The two men were helping the stranded semi-driver when they were struck by a truck driven by Renato Velasquez. Petrella died at the scene, while Balder managed to pull himself from the fiery wreck.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently ordered DND International Inc., the truck company in question, to immediately shut down, citing the business’ noncompliance with federal safety regulations. Upon the conclusion of their investigation, the FMCSA found that, “for a period of 26-hours during Jan. 26-27, Velasquez operated a tractor-trailer for approximately 1,000 miles, only resting between 3 ½ to 5 ½ hours – well short of the federally required rest period.”
Truck companies are required by law to cross reference toll transaction information with drivers’ logs in order to monitor the number of hours their drivers have worked. These standards are designed to keep drivers from driving fatigued (which can be more dangerous than driving drunk). Employees of DND International routinely falsified their drivers’ logs, thereby placing other automobile operators in Illinois at risk.
To reduce the amount of falsified logs and safety violations, the FMCSA has proposed that interstate commercial truck and bus companies will be required by law to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles. According to the Associated General Contractors of America website, the devices would, “track latitude and longitude, log engine hours and odometer readings. It would record location every 60 minutes and report whether the engine is on or off. This could be accomplished through satellite or land-based tracking. GPS could be used but would not be mandated.”
ELDs are just one way in which the FMCSA has attempted to boost road safety within the past couple months. There has been some opposition to some of the proposed safety changes, such as the change to the hours of service regulations, but many seem to be in favor of the electronic regulation of driver hours. Safe travels!