Regulation of Truckers’ Driving Hours Caused Higher Speeds and More Fatalities

(p. A13) Falling asleep at the wheel is deadly. “It is obvious that a man cannot work efficiently or be a safe driver if he does not have an opportunity for approximately 8 hours sleep in 24,” the Interstate Commerce Commission declared in 1937. Ever since, federal rules have limited the work hours of interstate truckers. Also ever since, truckers, their employers and their customers have circumvented the rules when they stand in the way of making money.

Congress tackled the problem in 2012 by requiring long-distance truckers to track their hours with an “electronic logging device” connected to the engine. The mandatory rest breaks and the limits on drivers’ daily and weekly hours didn’t change, but the Transportation Department estimated that monitoring compliance with an ELD would avoid 1,844 crashes and save 26 lives annually.  . . .

. . .

In “Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance,” Karen Levy makes a provocative case against this approach.   . . .  Her concise and lively book will interest anyone concerned with the complicated business of regulation.

. . .

. . ., Ms. Levy raises important questions about regulation in general by examining the unintended effects of a well-meant initiative designed to address a serious safety problem. She reports on a 2021 study linking ELDs to greater compliance with regulations but no reduction in truck crashes. Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks actually increased, as drivers sped up to cover as many miles as they could during their permitted driving time.

For the full review, see:

Marc Levinson. “BOOKSHELF; Miles of Mandates.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date January 3, 2023, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Data Driven’ Review: Miles of Mandates.”)

The book under review is:

Levy, Karen. Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *