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How Police Investigate Semi Truck Accidents

When there is an accident involving a semi truck, and especially one that resulted in severe injuries or even death, it will be investigated by the police. The accident scene is sometimes reconstructed. The goal of the police investigation will be to determine if the accident involved any criminal activity and if any laws were broken.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations

The police may want to see a trucking company's driver qualification file (DQF). Every trucking company is required by law to maintain one for each driver they employ. The DQF will contain the driver's driving record and list any accidents involving the driver or their truck. It will also have a driver's employment history. It also must contain the driver's training certificates, results of road tests as well as drug and alcohol tests. Records of vehicle maintenance will be listed. The DQF will also have copies of a driver's personnel records, medical certifications and more.

Investigating The Accident Site

The start of an accident investigation by the police will usually begin with an inspection of the accident site. Skid marks, gouge marks, and scrub marks will be noted and usually photographed. Measurements will be taken at the site to determine the point of impact as well as stopping position. They are usually determined with the use of electronic surveying equipment. This equipment is able to be used in the creation of a computer-generated diagram made to scale of the accident.

Electronic On-Board Recorder

When conducting a criminal investigation, the police will want to get information from a truck's electronic on-board recorder (EOBR). This is often referred to as a truck's black box. It can provide crucial information when it comes to determining how the truck was being driven before and at the time of the accident. It is designed to store this information so police and others can have access to such data.

Truck Examination

Another important aspect of investigating an accident is a thorough examination of the semi truck. Its mechanical condition, as well as any damage, can show how an accident occurred. Police will want to know about any repairs done on the truck prior to the accident. The mechanical components of the vehicles such as tires, suspension, lights, brakes, fuel lines and more will be carefully analyzed. The condition of any of these components could play a major role in causing an accident.

Accident Eyewitnesses

The police will want to speak with any accident eyewitnesses. They will ask these individuals to provide as many details as possible about what they witnessed. Questions such as if the driver seemed to be fatigued or intoxicated, the truck's driving behavior right before the accident and more could be asked. Police will want to know if an eyewitness heard breaks screeching or what the drivers said to one another after the accident and more.

Accident Reconstruction

If police believe that criminal activity has taken place, they will use their information to provide an accident reconstruction. This is a way physics is used to determine the speed of the semi truck, and other vehicles, as well as their positions during the events of the accident. An accident reconstruction will show such things as impact directions before and after the accident. The point of impact, surface friction values and more are able to be determined to show what occurred during the accident. 

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