A new study published this month examined the effects of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate on commercial vehicle crash rates a year after the regulation went into effect.
Researchers with the University of Arkansas and Northeastern University published a study called “Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents?” in January 2019.
The study was conducted using “detailed data from millions of driver inspections and all federally-recordable crashes from January 1st, 2017 through September 1st, 2018 to assess the effectiveness of the mandate.”
The main takeaway from the study was that while compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations did increase, the commercial vehicle crash rate did not go down.
From the study:
Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we show the mandate clearly achieved its first-order effect: drivers increased their compliance with HOS regulations, with drivers for small carriers most affected because many large carriers had already adopted ELDs and violated HOS regulations infrequently prior to the mandate. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the number of accidents decreased.
Further, researchers found that the ELD Mandate may have even had a negative impact on crash rates for smaller trucking companies: “Our results show that accident counts for small carriers did not fall relative to large carriers, and may have increased.”
Researchers say that the average number of weekly truck crashes before the ELD Mandate went into effect was 1717 accidents. During the “soft enforcement period” during which truckers were not being placed out of service for ELD violations, the weekly crash rate increased to 1912 accidents (an 11.4% increase). During the strict enforcement period that began in April, the weekly crash rate dropped to 1703 accidents per week (an 0.8% decrease).
It is worthwhile to note that the study did not look into who was at fault — passenger vehicle drivers or commercial vehicle drivers — in the reported crashes.
Researchers also found that ELD regulations may be increasing risky driving behaviors among drivers who work for small trucking companies because they are trying to make up for lost time: “Further, drivers for small carriers appear to have increased their frequency of unsafe driving (e.g., speeding) in response to the productivity losses caused by the mandate, which could explain why accidents did not decrease.”
You can click here to access the full study.