Truck Driver Admits to Altering Electronic Log Book in Fatal Crash

The investigation into a deadly tractor-trailer crash has uncovered a frightening fact: trucking companies and drivers are utilizing a process to alter electronic logbooks to cover up trucking hours of service (HOS) regulation violations put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

HOS regulations govern the working hours of commercial truck drivers. These regulations are designed to ensure the safety of both truck drivers and other road users by preventing driver fatigue, which can lead to accidents. Unfortunately, as our Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys know, many companies and drivers disobey these rules, often causing catastrophic results.

Some critical components of these regulations include:

  • 11-hour driving limit – Commercial truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-hour on-duty limit – Drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. This 14-hour window starts when the driver begins any kind of work, including non-driving duties like loading and unloading.
  • Rest breaks – Drivers must take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift.
  • 60/70-hour limit – Drivers cannot drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. This rule is often referred to as the “70-hour rule” or “60/7 rule”.
  • Electronic logging devices  – Drivers are required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record their driving hours to ensure compliance with HOS regulations. These devices automatically record driving time and other data to ensure accurate HOS tracking.

Fatal Crash

On December 16, 2022, three people were killed when the party bus they were in was rear-ended on Interstate 64 in Williamsburg by a Freightliner truck from Triton Logistics. Initially following the crash, the truck driver told state police that he had just dropped off a second driver, but later admitted to lying about the driver and revealed the process he was taught by the trucking company to alter his electronic logging device (ELD), so it looked like he had more rest hours than he actually did.

According to the report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the truck driver admitted to investigators that the trucking company told him what to say about a fictional co-driver in case of a vehicle inspection or accident. Records show the trucking company had listed an employee who no longer worked for the company as the second driver. He described to investigators how he could call the trucking company’s offshore data center in Lithuania, and they would reset his electronic log books so it would look like he had had more rest than he actually did.

Virginia Truck Accidents and Truck Driver Fatigue

According to national data, Virginia is ranked as the 13th worst state in the country for truck accidents. Last year, 5,662 truck accidents occurred on Virginia roads. Out of that total, 107 crashes were fatal, killing 117 people, and 2,488 of the crashes resulted in injuries.

A recent study by the FMSCA found that fatigue and work-related pressure were among the top seven factors associated with truck accidents. It has been well documented that trucking companies put pressure on their drivers to meet almost unattainable delivery schedules, leading many drivers to ignore HOS regulations, putting themselves and the rest of us on the roads in peril.

If you are driving anywhere near a large commercial truck, there are signs that could indicate the driver is suffering from fatigue and could potentially cause a crash. If you see any of these indicators, it is best to move away from the vehicle:

  • The truck is veering into other lanes.
  • The truck is veering onto the shoulder.
  • The truck is traveling at inconsistent speeds.
  • The truck is on the road late at night or early in the morning.
  • The truck is drifting from a lane and then overcorrecting.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer crash, contact a skilled Virginia Beach truck accident attorney to determine your legal options against the at-fault party or parties responsible for the accident. Truck accidents often involve claims against multiple parties and can be more complex than other vehicle accident claims. The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has successfully represented many truck accident victims and their families, like the $2.4 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a man who was killed when his car was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer.