Trucking Accidents- What Type of Information is Available?

Trucking Accidents- What Type of Information is Available?

By Josh Habegger


Since National Record Retrieval is a company focused on supporting law firms for all record retrieval needs, here is a little background on myself and a few of my staff members. We spent nearly 15 years working to help keep some of the largest fleets in the U.S. compliant with Local, State, & Federal regulations.  We consulted with large national carriers to help them properly license & permit, implement safety programs, install telematics devices, and monitor their driver qualification files.  Below is just a quick glimpse of data available in a truck accident.

Information Available:

How familiar are you with DOT Safety Rules & Regulations?  Some of the largest fleets in the United States have gaping holes in their FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) compliance procedures.  It is not because they don’t care, but it is a lot of work and staying compliant is a moving target.  Motor Carriers now have a lot of great technology at their fingertips to help them stay compliant and monitor safety issues. Do you know what type of data is recorded in a trucks ECM or how much data is collected from the most simple telematics units?  In a case against a trucking company or large carrier, what do you ask for?

At any time, the DOT can audit a fleets’ Driver Qualification Files (DQFs) and those files must be produced within 48 hours, but what takes place during that those hours?  I can tell you a lot!  Make sure that you ask for all changes made from the date you request the files to when you actually receive them.  I can promise you that all companies scramble when they are facing a law suit or audit.  Trucking companies that spend a lot of time and money on their safety programs are lucky if they are 85% compliant in the DOT’s eyes. What does that tell you about the average company?  Are they 50%, 40%, or 30% compliant….many are much worse.  So if one of their drivers has been involved in an accident and you know what information to request, you are going to probably find outages in their safety program that will help your case.

What about telematics? What information is in the palm of thousands of Fleet Director’s hands and why do they continue to ignore data that would help to keep our roadways much safer as it pertains to catastrophic trucking accidents?  Is it because monitoring this information is hard work or because it can be costly, or both? Most fleets that have telematics onboard can monitor some pretty amazing things and can know whether or not a driver is operating their equipment safely.  These new technologies are nothing short of amazing.  They monitor hard brakes, excessive acceleration, sharp turns, speeding, hours of service, pre-trip inspections, etc.  So, at any given moment you can look into the drivers history and see what was going on minutes/seconds before the accident.  Even if trucks do not have telematics, as long as they are a model year 2000 or newer, you can pull much of that information form the ECM.

Make sure that you are familiar with the FMCSRs (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) and what motivates trucking companies/carriers to comply.  Know what information you should be requesting to show the driver/carrier’s safety performance history.  No matter what the trucking company says, what you want is probably available, you just may have to dig for it.

Tip:  If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact one of our FMCSR experts.