Commercial trucks play a critical role in interstate commerce, transporting everything from food items and household goods to gasoline and construction equipment across the nation. However, they also pose a very real risk to others on the road, as these trucks weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds and often carry dangerous cargo. In recognition of these dangers, federal regulators instituted a series of rules with which trucking companies and their employees must comply. One of these rules requires drivers to keep a log of their activity, including how many miles they have driven and how many breaks they have taken on any given day.
In prior years, these logs were handwritten by the drivers themselves, but in 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) made significant changes to this requirement by instituting an electronic logging system. Data is now recorded on these devices automatically and can play a critical role in determining fault for truck accidents and helping injured parties recoup their losses.
What are Electronic Logging Devices?
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are pieces of hardware that are used to automatically record a lot of the information that used to be handwritten in log books by commercial truck drivers. These devices plug into a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) port and pull data from the truck’s engine. While mainly used to record how many hours a driver was on and off duty per week, they also capture other data, including:
- A truck’s drive time;
- Real-time GPS locations;
- Fault codes, which indicate whether repairs are necessary for a certain part;
- Engine speeds and loads; and
- Data about safety-related events, like sudden braking, harsh turns, and collisions.
This data is available for roadside inspection by law enforcement officers at any time, including after a crash. By automatically recording this information, ELDs help ensure compliance with important federal rules regarding hours of service and inspections and in so doing, prevent accidents caused by fatigued driving and mechanical failure. The information contained on these devices is also much harder to tamper with, so accident victims can obtain an accurate picture of a truck driver’s conduct immediately prior to a crash. The use of these devices has been mandatory for most commercial trucks since 2018.
Can I Use ELD Data as Evidence in My Truck Accident Case?
The data contained on ELDs often proves crucial in determining the cause of a truck accident. Injured parties can request these records from the trucking company and can use them to figure out:
- How fast the truck was driving prior to the crash;
- Whether the truck driver attempted to brake or swerve before the collision;
- Whether the driver engaged in any reckless behaviors, like swerving or speeding, before the accident;
- How many miles the truck driver had been on the road prior to the crash; and
- Whether the truck had a mechanical defect that could have contributed to the accident.
This information can provide a clear picture of the course of events on the date of a particular crash. For instance, a driver’s failure to brake, as well as the number of hours he or she had been on the road, when combined with eyewitness testimony and accident reconstruction models, can help establish that the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and caused a crash. Reckless driving that contributed to or caused the crash, like speeding, can also be detected by scrutinizing these records. Unfortunately, obtaining this data from at-fault trucking companies can be difficult, which is where having an experienced attorney can make a big difference for the outcome of your case.
Set Up a Free Consultation with Our Experienced Miami Truck Accident Lawyers
All drivers are required to comply with traffic laws and to act responsibly behind the wheel. Truck drivers, however, are held to an even higher standard because their vehicles are so large and dangerous. They are, for instance, forbidden from driving more than a certain amount of time without taking a break. Drivers who fail to fulfill these responsibilities (and the trucking companies that hire them) can be held accountable for these failures when they result in car accidents. Call our Miami office at 305-371-2692 or take a moment to complete one of our contact forms to set up a meeting with one of the dedicated Miami truck accident attorneys at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein. We offer free initial consultations and answer questions 24 hours a day, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or online message today.