Truck Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Joshua Winegar and Steven Winegar Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Winegar Law

Truck Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)



They might be nicknamed “black boxes”, or referred to as Electronic Recording Components, Event Data Recorder, or other variations depending on the circumstance. Legislation in the trucking industry typically refers to them as truck Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). In 2017 legislation was passed that made them mandatory for most commercial trucks.

Truck electronic logging devices lawyer

How mandated ELDs Transformed Safety and Compliance in the trucking industry

ELDs transformed the transportation industry by changing how trucking companies and drivers manage hours of service (HOS) compliance. Hours of Service regulations dictate the maximum time commercial drivers can spend operating vehicles. Although hours-of-service legislation was in effect long before ELDs, compliance was hard to enforce. Keeping track relied on manual paper logbooks prone to errors and falsifications. With the introduction of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), the process of tracking HOS became automated and precise.

Truck Electronic Logging Devices seek to combat trucker fatigue

A combination of tragic incidents, research findings, advocacy efforts, industry feedback, and regulatory scrutiny contributed to awareness and concern over driver fatigue in the trucking industry. Ultimately, the need for greater transparency and accuracy with regards to driving and rest times, led to the mandatory use of electronic logging devices to track driving time.

The Evolving Role of Electronic Logging Devices in Trucking

While the initial intention may have been primarily focused on regulatory compliance, the broader capabilities of ELDs became apparent as technology improved. Besides mandated rests and hours of service, data could also identify mechanical failures and risky driver behavior like:

  • Speeding
  • Harsh Braking
  • Sudden Acceleration
  • Steering Maneuvers

These are just a few points out of many that can be analyzed to determine the events leading up to an accident. It goes without saying, these logs can be an invaluable asset to any legal investigation involving truck accidents.

Truck accident lawyers can use ELD Data to strengthen the case

Truck electronic logging devices first aim is to prevent truck accidents from occurring, however completely eliminating them isn’t possible. When they do occur, understanding the reasons behind it can serve to prove liability as well as offer insights into how to prevent similar situations in the future.

How Truck Electronic Logging Devices Might Prove Fatigue

Examples below are scenarios that could be used to back up claims by either party in a lawsuit, and not irrefutable proof of anything without offering context. Here’s some insight into what may be found on these devices and how it could support claims.

Sudden Decrease in Accelerator Pedal Activity

If a driver begins to feel fatigued and drowsy, their foot may gradually release pressure from the accelerator pedal, resulting in a decrease in vehicle speed or a change in engine RPM.

Inconsistent Steering Input

The data may show abrupt or erratic changes in steering angle, indicating a loss of control or lack of attentiveness. Studies show a correlation of steering behavior with truck driving fatigue.

Lack of braking or Evasive Maneuvers

The absence of significant braking or avoidance maneuvers in the data could support an argument that a driver was unable to respond effectively due to fatigue.

Time and Duration of Continuous Driving

Driving beyond the legally allowed time frames and continuous driving without taking mandated rests could serve as additional evidence of fatigue as a contributing factor to the accident.

Decoding the Drive: Experts can analyze truck ELDs for insights.

Interpreting black box data from trucks involved in accidents can require expertise from various fields. Truck accident attorneys can help assemble a team of specialists that include:

Certified Accident Reconstructionists (C.A.R.): Recognized as experts in analyzing black box data and providing expert testimony in legal proceedings. They reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to an accident which includes electronic data in combination with physical evidence like skid marks, vehicle damage, and lining up known facts with witness statements.

Forensic Engineers: Forensic engineers possess a background in engineering and use their expertise to analyze black box data from a technical standpoint. They assess the performance of vehicle systems, such as brakes and engines, to identify any malfunctions or failures that may have contributed to the accident.

Data Analysts: Data analysts specialize in processing and interpreting large datasets, including black box data. They use statistical methods and data visualization techniques to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies in the data, providing insights into the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Vehicle Dynamics Experts: These experts have a deep understanding of vehicle dynamics and how vehicles respond to various inputs such as steering, braking, and acceleration. They analyze black box data to assess the handling characteristics of the vehicle leading up to the accident.

Human Factors Specialists: Human factors specialists study how human behavior and performance influence safety and decision-making in complex systems. They analyze black box data to evaluate driver behavior, reaction times, and situational awareness leading up to the accident.

Automotive Engineers: Automotive engineers specialize in the design, development, and testing of vehicles and their components. They can provide insights into the technical aspects of black box data, including the interpretation of diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and other vehicle performance metrics.

How to gain access to the data on Truck Electronic Logging Devices?

Access to ELD data can be difficult to obtain for anyone outside of the trucking company. Lawyers can request data as part of their representation, and may be obtained through discovery processes, subpoenas, or court orders issued in connection with legal proceedings.

The best truck accident lawyers near you will understand how to expedite the process according to the local jurisdictions where the accident occurred.

Its important to act fast because storage space on ELDs is limited. Older logs can be erased to make room for new information if the device continues running.


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