Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

How recorders can protect you

| April 09, 2010

If it seems electronic onboard recorders are becoming much more prevalent, it’s because they are. Thousands of units are in place in major carriers. The recent final rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration means that thousands more are on the way for fleets that rack up too many hours-of-service violations.

The May Overdrive will examine what all this means. Some of the owner-operators interviewed by my colleague Todd Dills found, often to their surprise, that they liked the accuracy in regulating their hours and were thrilled to be done forever with so much tedious paperwork. And there are some high-tech features, such as one-touch location of where you are, that are a helpful bonus.

No one expects to be in an accident and have some pit bull attorney gnawing on their log books, but it happens all the time. This recent posting from personal injury lawyer Jerry Thurman, of Oklahoma City, Okla., shows why any driver should welcome the security of knowing that you’ll never get coerced into creative logging that might one day get exposed and ruin your career.

In this case, Thurman writes, the driver was skilled at making sure his logs lined up with his fuel receipts and weight tickets. He did not know his truck was tracked by satellite and the data still existed:  

“Both the trucking company and defense counsel had failed to review this data and the driver came into his deposition adamant that he had never falsified his logs. In fact, during the course of the deposition the defense attorney kept saying we were on a fishing expedition as it related to log falsification. However, when confronted with the satellite data it turned out the driver was still driving six (6) hours into his logged ‘off duty’ rest period.”

On the other hand, companies using onboard recorders know there is only one set of data and they can’t tamper with it. They say they get very few hours violations.

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