Since December 2017, all commercial truck drivers who are required to prepare hours of service records of duty status must use electronic logging devices (ELDs). ELDs are tablet computers carried in truck cabs that record data about every aspect of the operation of the vehicle and driver activity.
ELDs provide information such as:
- Vehicle identification
- Geographic location
- Miles traveled
- Engine start and shutdown times
- Engine diagnostics
- Driver log-on/log-off times
- Hours of service (HOS)
- Duty status changes (driving, on-duty, off-duty)
While they are primarily designed to provide information about truck usage and driver activity, ELDs also provide data that can help drivers and trucking companies reduce the risk of accidents—and help investigators determine fault when accidents occur.
ELDs Provide Important Data and Information After Crashes
Here are some ways in which ELDs contribute to reducing truck accidents:
Accurate HOS Tracking
ELDs automatically record a driver’s on-duty and off-duty time, making it more difficult for drivers to exceed their allowable driving hours. This helps reduce driver fatigue, a major factor in many big truck accidents.
ELDs provide real-time visibility into a driver’s current status and driving hours. This allows fleet managers to identify potential violations and address them promptly. If a driver is nearing their HOS limit, they can be directed to take mandatory rest breaks.
Reduction in Falsification
ELDs make it more difficult for drivers to falsify their logbooks, which was once a common practice with paper logs. Accurate records help ensure that drivers take required rest breaks and adhere to HOS regulations.
ELDs automatically alert drivers and carriers when they are close to exceeding their driving hours, helping them to proactively manage their schedules and comply with federal regulations.
Data for Accident Investigation
In the event of an accident, ELDs can provide valuable data, including the speed of the vehicle, engine status, and braking events, which can be useful in accident investigations. For example, trucks need to brake early due to their size and weight. Late braking may be an indication of driver distraction.
This data can help determine the cause of the accident as well as whether the driver was in compliance with HOS regulations at the time.
By promoting adherence to HOS regulations and reducing driver fatigue, ELDs contribute to safer roads and a lower risk of accidents involving commercial trucks.
How Do Lawyers Use ELDs When Building Truck Accident Claims?
ELDs can be valuable tools for lawyers in truck accident cases. They can provide crucial evidence and information that can be used to establish liability, determine the cause of the accident, and support the claims of victims. Here’s how ELDs are used by lawyers in truck accident cases:
Establishing Driver Fatigue
ELDs can provide a detailed record of the driver’s hours of service, showing when they were on-duty, off-duty, or in rest periods. Lawyers can use this data to determine if the driver was in compliance with HOS regulations or if they were potentially fatigued due to excessive driving hours. If it is found that the driver exceeded their allowable hours, this can be used to establish negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver or their employer.
Reconstructing the Accident
ELDs store data related to the vehicle’s speed, engine status, braking events, and other critical information. This data can be used to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to the accident. Lawyers can use this information to determine factors such as the speed of the truck at the time of the accident and whether the driver took appropriate actions to avoid the collision.
Evidence of Driver Behavior
ELDs may record additional data, such as sudden stops or abrupt maneuvers. This can be used to establish whether the driver was engaged in distracted driving, aggressive driving, or other unsafe behaviors leading up to the accident.
Admissibility in Court
Lawyers can use ELD data as evidence in court to support their client’s claims. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the data is collected and preserved in a legally sound manner, and lawyers may need to work with experts to validate and interpret the data effectively.
ELD data can be used to help establish liability in semi-truck accident cases. If the ELD shows that the driver was non-compliant with HOS regulations or engaged in risky behavior, this can be used to argue that the driver or their employer should be held responsible for the accident and the cost of victims’ injuries and other damages.
ELD data can also be used as leverage during settlement negotiations. Lawyers can use the information to demonstrate the strength of their case and potentially secure better settlements for their clients.
Call our Oklahoma Truck Accident Lawyers for Experienced Legal Representation
Since they were mandated for use in commercial trucks by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in December 2017, ELDs have provided a wealth of knowledge, data, and information about the trucking industry, including driver habits and behavior on the job. These devices have been effective at not only identifying risks, but also pinpointing when and where risks turn into accidents.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma truck accident attorneys use ELDs along with other evidence such as witness statements, accident reconstruction data, police accident reports, dashcam and traffic camera footage, and more to prove fault and help our clients get the compensation they’re owed. If you or someone you love was hurt in a truck accident, contact us today for a free case review.