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Using Telematics to Keep Driving Regulations Straight

Long-haul truckers face the unique burden of adhering to both state and national laws when crossing a variety of state lines. Not only is there confusion regarding mandated breaks, including all of the different aspects of pay, duration, and frequency, but there are differing emissions standards and weight limits. National laws ultimately rise above state and local laws, but often only if the national minimums are higher than (or the national maximums are lower than) state laws, which can leave fleet management teams working within cautious but overly narrow constraints.

What could be the solution to regulation confusion?

As far as legislation itself is concerned, the answer isn't clear-cut. Some in-progress legislation could preempt state legislation entirely rather than set national standards that state ones might exceed. Many Republicans want to preserve states' rights, but large lobbying groups and organizations are also demanding a clear set of regulations so employers aren't hamstrung by fines from conflicting regulations and the hike in insurance premiums that follows. The issue is even more complicated by different driving regulations on interstates and state highway systems, which not only impose different speeds and monitoring methods but are constructed differently and so need separate standards.

Technology might pose a potential solution, but it won't simplify the problem. Many larger companies are looking into telematics, or technology that combines both communication tools and information databases, to clear up what drivers should do in the moment. Increasingly detailed GPS systems could give drivers up-to-date information regarding road type, governing body, and any additional details based on their own specifications and load. Instead of drivers having to keep a confusing web of regulations in mind, their GPS will do it for them. Fully integrated telematics systems aren't as close on the horizon as other technological shifts, but they're already shifting from simple GPS navigation systems to a network of devices that let central offices monitor driving conditions and vehicle behavior.