People often assume that eighteen wheelers are just oversized vehicles sharing the road with them like any other vehicle. They do not stop and consider the dangers involved or the regulations these big trucks are subject to for their safety and the safety of their operators.
When the legislation put in place for commercial trucks is violated, the potential for a catastrophic truck accident to occur increases significantly. The average driver of a passenger vehicle will have no way of knowing if the truck they are approaching is in compliance until something devastating happens. E
Logbook fraud is common practice
Falsifying logbooks is a bad custom in the trucking industry that seems to occur no matter how strict regulations are tightened to prevent it. Earlier in October a carrier out of Rhode Island admitted in federal court that thousands of driver log records for numerous drivers employed by his company were manipulated under his watch.
The information he changed was collected by electronic logging devices, including information he provided to law enforcement during an investigation of a crash that ended in the death of one of his drivers. One of the primary reasons for altering the logbooks was to hide the fact that his drivers were routinely ignoring the federal regulation that requires drivers limit driving hours without the mandated breaks.
Logbook falsifications seen most often
Drivers have the responsibility of accepting or refusing loads based on whether they can be legally and safely delivered under the terms of the shipping agreement. Unfortunately, if the company you work for gives a driver an ultimatum of taking a load or losing his or her job, the driver is likely to agree and corners will be cut along the route to get it there.
Falsities drivers or their carriers may claim on their logs include:
- Claiming they were “off duty” in their sleeper cabin, taking a walk, or grabbing a meal when they’re using that time to perform inspections, drop off or pick up a load, or they’re still on the road trying to meet their delivery schedule.
- Creating duplicate logbooks with false records to pass off as current if they are asked to present it for inspection. All the driver needs to do is fill in the current date each day. Logbook information is otherwise basic.
- Temporarily disabling or jamming the signal to the electric on-board recorder (EOBR) so that real-time data will not be tracked.
- Creating what is known as “ghost logs” that use a different driver ID number for each book so that inspections don’t pick up repeated violations by the same driver that can result in fines or loss of their CDL.
- Disengaging the gear while sitting in heavy traffic to maximize their driving time before being required to take an “off duty” break.
There are consequences for faking driver logbooks
Trucking company owners and drivers both known the dangers associated with breaking the rules. Both the legal consequences and those that can be tough to live with when an innocent person is seriously injured or killed as a result of a car accident, hitting a pedestrian, or crashing into a motorcycle.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) may choose to audit a trucking company, which will include interviewing key personnel to get a handle on how the company operates. Finding records that are out of compliance with federal law, especially when intentional, enables the company owner and even the driver to be charged with a crime and prosecuted.
Some of the ways truck drivers cause accidents include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Being less alert so that reactions are slower in emergencies
- Speeding, especially when road conditions are icy or wet, which minimizes reaction time
- Taking drugs and driving impaired to remain alert
If you were injured by a truck driver, checking the logbooks is one of the first places an investigation should begin to determine fault. Driver fatigue is often a factor that plays into accident cause and if records were manipulated to hide the fact that the driver was illegally putting in too many hours, that is a crucial piece of information to help bolster your claim.
To see if you may be eligible to seek money to pay for your medical bills, lost time from work, and pain and suffering, schedule your free consultation with the knowledgeable Mississippi truck accident attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. Call us now at 662-302-2979, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form. We have offices located in Jackson, Clarksdale, and Oxford for your convenience in addition to proudly serving clients in the City of Tupelo.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, Mr. Cocke and Mr. Merkel established Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 1982. Since that time the emphasis of Mr. Cocke’s practice has progressed toward medical malpractice. At the present time his practice is exclusively devoted to handling medical negligence cases for the plaintiff, either as a result of direct contact by the client or on referral from other attorneys who are not familiar with the handling of medical negligence cases. Mr. Cocke was selected Best Lawyer of the year for 2012 and 2014 in The Memphis area in the field of Medical Malpractice and has been selected a Best Lawyer and Super Lawyer every year since 2006. Learn more about John Hartwell Cocke here.