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The latest expose by USA Today examines the horrendous safety record of the port trucking industry. Entitled, “Asleep at the wheel: Companies risk lives by putting sleep-deprived port truckers on the road,” it documents how port trucking companies coerce their drivers into working far beyond safe driving limits, causing dangerous crashes and threatening many lives.

Given the frightening stories described in the article, it should come as no surprise that a truck safety expert at the University of Michigan finds port trucking is consistently one of the most dangerous sectors within the entire trucking industry. This is a striking distinction, as trucking overall remains one of the deadliest jobs out there with 786 drivers killed last year, a jump of 17.3 percent since 2011.

Meanwhile, many trucking companies are seeking exemptions to a new Department of Transportation rule that seeks to improve public safety and save lives by mandating electronic logs in trucks. But according to federal regulations, companies can only be exempt if their drivers operate solely within a 100 air-mile radius, and are both completely off-duty within 12 hours and have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty between each shift.

If the USA Today investigation is accurate, then many port trucking companies must install the newly-mandated electronic log devices. Otherwise it appears there’s another example of poor enforcement creating “unfair competition” in the industry. Responsible trucking companies are dealing with the headaches and costs associated with compliance by installing an ELD, while enforcement is needed to ensure other carriers are not abusing the exemption.

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