“Black boxes” are familiar to many in the context of a plane crash; investigations into the crashes often rely on information retrieved from these devices. However, using black boxes to determine the cause of an accident is not limited to plane crashes. Many commercial trucks have black boxes that collect data in real time, shedding light on truck safety issues and providing insight into the various factors contributing to vehicle accidents. When someone has been injured in a truck accident, black boxes can be a valuable tool in demonstrating liability for the accident. They can support the claim of negligence in a personal injury case.
What Is a Truck “Black Box” And What Does It Record?
A black box, also known as an Event Data Recorder (EDR), is a device installed in a motor vehicle designed to record technical information regarding the vehicle and the occupant for a short time before, during, and after a vehicle crash. Some commercial trucks may require EDRs. The recorded data can be accessed after a vehicle crash to collect necessary information regarding the driver’s behavior and the truck’s performance during the accident.
A black box may collect the following data and more:
- The speed of the truck
- Whether the truck driver activated the brakes prior to the accident
- Speed of acceleration and deceleration
- Any mechanical malfunction that may have occurred
- Force of vehicle impact
- When the airbag was deployed
- Whether seat belts were worn by the truck driver and any passengers
- Vehicle tilt, steering angle, and throttle position
- Other information that is critical to determining the cause of a truck accident
Black boxes are activated when the vehicle is running; the devices will not collect any data if the truck’s engine is off at the time of the accident.
Because federal laws do not require commercial trucks to have black boxes installed, determining whether or not the particular truck involved in an accident has a black box can be challenging. And if the truck did have a black box, the data it captured belongs to the trucking company. A skilled personal injury attorney with experience handling truck accident cases will work to secure the information from the black box and use that information in support of your personal injury case. The attorney may also choose to engage an expert witness to interpret the data that is recovered from the black box.
Electronic Logging Devices
Another source of truck accident information is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that ELDs be installed in all commercial trucks. These devices track the number of hours a trucker spends behind the wheel of a large commercial truck to ensure compliance with national laws governing these trips. Studies show that truck driver fatigue contributes to thirteen percent of truck accidents in the United States, and research suggests that truck driver fatigue contributes to 30 to 40 percent of all heavy truck accidents.
Federal regulations limit the maximum number of hours a truck driver can be on duty while operating a commercial truck. If the truck driver exceeds these limits, that can lead to accidents, and the information obtained through the ELD can provide critical insights that can be very useful in proving liability. If the trucking company encourages or forces the truck driver to exceed the maximum number of permitted driving hours, then liability for the accident rests with the trucking company.
Experience Matters When You Are Trying to Recover Black Box Data for A Truck Accident Claim
If you have been injured in a truck accident, there is no time to waste in recovering critical information from the truck’s black box. An experienced personal injury attorney will aggressively pursue this data and use all available information to present a strong liability case. At Cullotta Bravo Law, our personal injury attorneys have been serving accident victims in Aurora and Naperville, Illinois, for more than 30 years. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation at 630-898-7800.