Since the ELD mandate took effect, most of the conversation surrounding the devices has focused on hours of service and compliance issues. However, their uses do not end there. ELD data can prove important when carriers need to recreate accidents in order to determine fault.
ELD systems typically use GPS and cell signal to track the truck’s location. Some ELD systems can track other factors, such as speed and sometimes, even lane. All ELDS are not created equal. The quality of available data can vary drastically from one device to another, either because of poor connectivity or generally inaccurate reporting.
EROAD is one ELD company that can provide its clients with the data needed to help with accident recreation.
“If there’s ever an incident on the road, a company can go back and recreate exactly what happened leading up to that accident, what that truck was doing at the point of the accident and how long the truck was next to the road,” EROAD Onboarding Specialist Ryan Purcell said. “A company could let their insurance provider know their truck was not at fault. The same could be true for fatal accidents. We’ve had customers that have had fatalities in accidents and have used data from our systems in court to eventually show that the driver was not at fault.”
One thing that sets EROAD’s device apart from other devices on the market is the fact that the company is heavily involved with tax and compliance, in addition to standard ELD functions.
“The advantage of that is that our data has to be super accurate in order to provide tax information, so we have all of this expert data to look at for the purposes of accident reconstruction,” Purcell said. “A lot of providers don’t have the same access to the same level of detail so lots of companies claim they can do accident reconstruction, but a trucking company should ask about the level of detail they can access.”
The detailed data EROAD’s devices capture can be used to help carriers prevent accidents by notifying them when drivers or trucks operating outside established safety standards, or before an incident occurs. It can also be invaluable when accidents do occur, especially if the truck driver involved was not at fault.
“The vast majority of crashes involve a truck and a car, and it’s the car at fault, not the truck,” Purcell said. “Carriers are, for the most part, aware that their drivers are driving safely, and this type of information is great for peace of mind with actual, exportable data.”
Having this up-to-date data can also be a valuable tool for carriers hoping to negotiate more competitive insurance rates.
“Commercial auto insurance is a hard market right now. There are fewer providers willing to provide insurance, and they’re providing it at much higher rates than historically,” LaPorte Insurance Account Executive Dan Petrillo said. “Any way you can differentiate yourself as a motor carrier in the insurance marketplace is a important.”
Petrillo said ELD data that looks at variables like overspeeds and harsh braking events is particularly important in negotiating rates because it allows insurance providers to get a clear picture of the carrier’s risk factors.
“Those are things we can feed to our underwriting partners to give them a much better look at what is happening on the road,” Petrillo said. “Otherwise an underwriter is looking at lagging indicators of performance like claims and CSA scores. What we’re trying to move to is a more predictive model.”
He recommends carriers take advantage of the data available to them via these mandatory devices by actively managing drivers and getting hands-on with insurance providers.