To ensure that commercial truck drivers get enough sleep, they are required to keep logs of their activity, but the days of pencil and paper may be coming to an end. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institution received funding to study the viability of using electronic onboard recorders to increase road safety, the university announced Aug. 10. The project, which is funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), will be led by Jeff Hickman, the leader of the Behavioral Analysis and Applications Group in the Center for Truck and Bus Safety.

“For this research project, we will look at crash and vehicle data to determine whether trucks with electronic onboard recorders have a significantly lower crash rate than those without,” Hickman said. “Our database will also allow us to look at preventable crashes and crashes that have been designated as fatigue related.”

Commercial truck drivers and bus drivers have “hours of service” rules they must follow that were last updated in 2011. Hours of service place limits on maximum consecutive driving time, maximum weekly driving time, and minimum sleep and rest requirements. The FMCSA has regularly updated its requirements, resulting in lives saved and between $160 million and $280 million saved annually, according to the FMCSA.