Trucking companies have the ability to know when drivers are speeding or going over the limit for time on the road. But, do these companies turn a blind eye to this information at the expense of the public? In a trucking wreck, this information is evidence for plaintiffs’ attorneys who know how to mine the information and use it to prove their client’s case.
On board computers track 175 characteristics such as speed, hard-braking and maintenance. This information allows plaintiffs’ attorneys to sue for negligent supervision, negligent maintenance and punitive damages if the facts are bad enough.
The main source of information is the truck’s “black box.” Some trucks are equipped with EO-BRs (electric on-board recorders) which monitor the number of driving hours, speed, and can indicate every time a driver goes over the allowed number of hours or drives over the speed limit.
Some trucking companies have replaced the old log books with devices that track a driver’s schedule and send the information back to the company. Other companies use video cameras and radar to warn of potential hazards such as a sleepy driver.
Hours-of-service violations are often the cause of wrecks due to driver fatigue. With the right evidence from these new devices these cases merit punitive damages.
Getting the information is not as easy as it may seem. It is critical to act quickly before the information is lost or erased.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a new regulation which would require carriers with a history of violations to install this new equipment. The American Trucking Association opposes mandatory installation. The Truck Safety Coalition thinks the proposed rule is too weak. You can make a difference by contacting the Truck Safety Coalition and letting your opinion be heard to help prevent future accidents.