Ticket challenges, courtroom crash drama, DataQs hurdles: Video's power for clear communication

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Updated Apr 9, 2021

When you've got a case, you've got a case. And that was most certainly the reality of the matter Fredericksburg, Virginia-based bulk hauler Payne Trucking faced in the courtroom scene Safety Director Chris Haney lays out in the video below, part of Overdrive's live webcast panel discussion with Haney and Chris Turner of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance about the ins and outs of FMCSA's DataQs system for challenging violations, correcting the crash record, and more. 

The crash 
A Payne driver was coming up to an intersection with a slight left curve in it. The Payne trucker was preparing to turn left, and on his right was a four-wheeler that then collided with the Payne truck as both were still in the slight left curve of the road.

The initial outcome
The Payne driver was cited for failing to maintain the lane, "or something along those lines," said Haney. Fortunately, no one was hurt, though the four-wheeler's driver was shaken up and adamant she wanted her car towed from the scene, given damage incurred. The accident report noted the tow, so the crash then appeared on Payne Trucking's CSA Safety Measurement System record as a recordable crash (all accidents involving either a fatality, an injury, or a tow-away from the scene). 

The court case
The driver got his court date, and in preparation for it Haney and Payne reviewed dashcam footage of the time before and after the accident, noting that it captured the four-wheeler's driver clearly visible in the truck's mirrors as she came up alongside the rig. When the driver's day in court arrived, well ... let's just say the scene was one of high drama after the video played, as Haney explains in the clip here: 

The DataQ challenge of the crash itself
As Haney also narrates in the video, the extended recording capability of the dashcam in the truck ended up helping the company not only with adjudicating the driver's citation but also with a DataQs challenge of the crash itself being on their SMS record. Most dashcam systems that are built specifically to capture and save footage before and immediately after G-force events in a moving vehicle will also contain an ability to manually capture and save footage. I'm not sure if the driver triggered the manual recording here or if Payne's devices were outfitted with an always-on or on-demand sort of recording retrievability, but a great deal of time was captured after the crash.

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In any case, an officer on the scene was caught on video getting into the four-wheeler's damaged vehicle and then driving it from its place in the intersection around the corner and out of the way prior to the vehicle being towed. 

The point? The vehicle could have been driven away under its own power, and the video proved it. Thus: it didn't fit the definition of a recordable crash, as Haney explained during our video Q&A. 

Events like this can be overwhelming when they occur, emotions can run high among all involved -- certainly the case here with the driver of the auto. It's important, though, to keep cool and keep your wits about you when it comes to documenting the scene as best as possible. If it's video that explains your position, all the better. 

Dig back through more on the subject via this piece about prepping for any DataQs challenge. There's plenty there that applies directly to prepping for a court case, too: 

[Related: How to mount an effective DataQs challenge]

Catch the full panel discussion with Haney and Turner via this link. 

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