IX. Computer Data & Systems

Below is the ninth chapter, “Computer Data & Systems,” of Understanding Motor Carrier Claims, Sixth Edition, a book from Fried Goldberg LLC, about the complexities of truck accident litigation. Plaintiff’s attorneys can request a complimentary copy. If you have any questions and would like to speak with an Atlanta, Georgia trucking accident attorney, contact us today. 

Previous Chapter: VIII. Electronic Control Module

Next Chapter: X. Insurance Coverage

Trucking companies often have computer systems that utilize the information from the ECM and from GPS sensors placed into the vehicle to monitor the whereabouts of the vehicle and fuel consumption and have other features that record information. There are also a variety of collision-avoidance computer systems that warn the driver when he is drifting outside of his lane of travel such as VORAD or warn the driver when he is approaching a vehicle at an unsafe closing speed. The tractor may be equipped with a computer messaging system such as Qualcomm or PeopleNet to relay messages about traffic and loads and to communicate with dispatch. These computer systems contain a significant amount of data that may be relevant to the trucking company’s operations or the cause of the collision.

A. Messaging Systems

There are numerous types of messaging systems that are utilized by the trucking industry including PeopleNet, DriverTech, Teletrac, Dynafleet, Xdata, XataNet, MobileNet, FleetMatics. But the most popular messaging system is Qualcomm and so many times people generically refer to these systems as Qualcomm systems. The Qualcomm electronic messaging system allows the user to communicate with dispatch through messages similar to a text message or e-mail.

The messages are usually stored in the system for a period of 7 to 30 days and can be downloaded from the master server.

B. Load Information

The Qualcomm system tracks loads from pickup to delivery both for logistic purposes and for billing of the shipper.

C. Driver Master

The Qualcomm system has a feature where each driver has a separate electronic file listing any comments about the driver’s performance or safety issues.

D. Tractor Master

The system creates an electronic file for each vehicle.

E. GPS Tracking

As part of most messaging systems, the tractor and /or trailer is monitored with a GPS system that tracks the location of the vehicle. The system will “ping” the vehicle on a regular basis, usually every hour, and record the location of the vehicle at that time. The system will also record the location of the vehicle whenever a message is sent or received over the electronic messaging system.

The system can also record speeds using the GPS technology.

F. Movement Display

The system records information on the movement of each tractor through the GPS system.

G. Sensor Trac Data

SensorTrac is a feature of the Qualcomm system that monitors speeds and idle time for vehicles as part of a fuel consumption program. The SensorTrac data can also be used to monitor drivers for hours of service and speeding issues.


The VORAD (Vehicle Onboard Radar) is a warning system that can alert a truck driver when the vehicle is drifting out of its lane or if the truck is approaching a vehicle at an unsafe speed. The dashboard monitor issues an audible warning to the driver.

The VORAD’s control module usually records data for 10 minutes preceding a collision including vehicle speed, turn signal status, brake status, turn rate and alert status. This data can be downloaded with the appropriate software.

I. Dash Cam Videos

Many commercial vehicles now have dashcam video recorders installed in them. The recorder captures the roadway in front of the vehicle as well as what is going on inside the vehicle. The videos are uploaded to a website and stored there for a period of time. The recorder can include a function to automatically save and store video from a collision.

J. Loading Procedures

Commercial vehicles must be loaded in such a manner as to prevent its cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the vehicle. The cargo must be immobilized or secured to prevent shifting to the extent that the vehicle’s stability or maneuverability is affected. All vehicle structures, systems, parts and components used to secure cargo must be in proper working order with no damaged or weakened components that will adversely affect their performance. Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage or dunnage bags, shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these. Articles of cargo that are likely to roll must be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle or equivalent means to prevent rolling. Federal regulations provide for specific means of securing logs, building products, metal coils, paper rolls, concrete pipes, intermodal containers, automobiles, heavy equipment, crushed vehicles, and boulders. Cargo must be secured so that when a vehicle decelerates at a rate of 20 feet per second, the cargo will remain on the vehicle and will not penetrate the vehicle’s front-end structure. Any vehicle having a load or component which extends beyond the sides more than 4 inches or more than 4 feet beyond the rear must have the extremities marked with a red or orange fluorescent warning flag. If the projecting load is 2 feet in width or less, then only one flag is required at the extreme rear of the load. If the projecting load is greater than 2 feet in width, two flags must be used at the extreme width and length on each side of the load.

Practice Pointer

Place the motor carrier on notice to print out Qualcomm data before it is destroyed and review the date for evidence of driver distraction, hours service violations and speeding.

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