FMCSA: Study shows lower crash rates with e-logs, but ‘skewed’ to bigger carriers

Updated May 14, 2014
Graphic from FMCSA (click to enlarge)Graphic from FMCSA (click to enlarge)

Electronic logs have a beneficial impact on truck safety, according to a study posted Monday by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration.

The goal of the study was to determine whether commercial vehicles with installed electronic hours-of-service recorders (EHSRs) had significantly lower crash rates and fewer hours-of-service violations than vehicles without them. (Note: Though the study uses the acronym EHSR, the proposed mandate refers to the systems as electronic logging devices, or ELDs.)

“The approach used in this research went far beyond any previous study in this domain,” FMCSA says. “The results show a clear safety benefit, in terms of crash and HOS violation reductions, for trucks equipped with EHSRs.”

The data came from the previously generated compliance records of 11 participating carriers representing small, medium and large fleet – although the data set was “skewed” toward larger, for-hire carriers and “may not represent the overall U.S. trucking population,” the report notes.

The set included a total of 82,943 crashes, 970 HOS violations, 224,034 truck-years and 15.6 billion miles driven, for an average annual mileage of 69,600 per truck. (The study also notes the total seems low, but that trucks that were taken out of service mid-year – “such as those destroyed in a crash” – the mileage still counted toward the full-year average.)

After controlling for a calendar year, EHSR-equipped trucks had a significantly lower total crash rate (11.7 percent reduction) and a significantly lower preventable crash rate (5.1 percent reduction) than trucks not equipped with an EHSR, according to the study.

Similarly, EHSR-equipped trucks had a 53 percent lower driving-related HOS violation rate and a 49 percent lower non-driving- related HOS violation rate than trucks not equipped with EHSRs.

Small sample sizes limited the power to detect a significant difference with regard to DOT-recordable and fatigue-related crashes, the report adds.

A copy of the study is available here.