Last month, Deborah Hersman , Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, spoke in Washington to the National Press Club and stated that every day over 100 Americans die in transportation accidents, mostly on our highways. After her speech, the Chairwoman turned her comments to truck accident prevention.
Chairwoma Hersman recognized driver fatigue as a major cause of truck crashes and called for Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs) on all commercial trucks. Her rationale for this safety device is that NTSB "investigate accidents on a regular basis where we find two sets of log books [with one being false]." In other words, even the NTSB recognizes that fudging driver log books is a common practice to enable drivers to be on duty for more hours than is legally permitted. While not fool proof, EOBRs are harder to fudge than paper driver logs. Monitoring driver fatigue is an important safety issue.
As I discussed in a recent blog, none of these monitoring devices are of any use in civil litigation unless the evidence is preserved. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations permit trucking companies to destroy this evidence six months after the crash. That’s why truck accident vicitims should consult an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. The first thing the lawyer should do is send a letter to the truck company and its insurance carrier demanding that all evidence from the truck and the scene be preserved.