Types of Evidence to Gather from an Automatic On-Board Recording Device

Posted 10 months ago. Applies to West Virginia, 2 helpful votes


All commercial truck drivers are liable for recording their hours of service, and many motor carriers require the use of an automatic on-board recording device. The following information from this device could become useful evidence in a truck accident claim.


Driver and Motor Carrier Identification

Every automatic on-board recording device begins its log with identification information. This includes: driver's name; co-driver name(s); driver's user ID and password; motor carrier's name and USDOT number; and truck or tractor and trailer number. This information can verify that the driver or motor carrier being held liable for your truck accident is the correct party or parties.


Location Information

To ensure you are looking at the correct log data, the recording device collects the date and time of each data entry, as well as the location of the vehicle and the distance traveled since the last entry. This is important in claims where the truck may have been driving in restricted areas, or the distance between log entries shows that the truck had to have been speeding to cover that amount of mileage in the recorded period of time.


Duty Status

There are four categories of duty that an on-board recorder can log. "Off duty/OFF" means the driver is taking a mandatory break between the legal driving periods. "On-duty not driving/ON" means the driver is on duty but not driving at the time. "Driving/D" means the driver is considered on duty and actively driving, and "Sleeper Berth/SB" means the driver is resting in the sleeper berth of his or her vehicle. It must also include the 24-hour period starting time.

This is the most important type of evidence the electronic on-board recording device will offer for your trucking accident case. Many drivers become fatigued and negligent when they violate their hours of duty. Fatigued drivers may cause catastrophic accidents due to shortened reaction time, inability to control their vehicle, or sometimes falling asleep at the wheel.


Cargo Information

The automatic on-board recording device also stores the information about the cargo being shipped. Some will record the shipping document number(s) while others may report the name of shipper and the commodity. Cargo-related negligence is a common cause of truck accidents. Spilled cargo and hazardous materials can pose a threat to nearby drivers and pedestrians even when a truck does not strike another vehicle in the accident. Failing to possess the proper credentials to transport hazardous cargo could be a factor in establishing a driver's negligence and lack of qualifications.

Additional Resources

For a full explanation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's rules for automatic on-board recording devices, visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=395.15. If you’re struck by a large truck in Clarksburg and wish to explore legal options, set up a consultation with an attorney.

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