The Importance of Black Boxes in Trucking Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 400,0000 trucking accidents occur every year in the United States. The FMCSA further reports that about 88 percent of crashes are attributable to driver error such as distracted driving and drowsy driving. Other common causes include improperly maintained equipment and failure to adhere to traffic rules. It can be difficult to discern the cause of an accident, especially when the negligent party does not want to accept responsibility, but black boxes may be able to help.
What are Black Boxes?
A black box, also known as an event data recorder (EDR), electronic control module (ECM), or electronic log system (ELS), is a device originally designed to help disprove invalid engine warranty claims by showing purchaser abuse. They are now typically installed with the engine components of most trucks to help improve highway safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), black boxes provide data such as:
- Pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status
- Driver inputs
- Vehicle crash signature
- Restraint usage/deployment status
- Post-crash data such as the activation of an automatic collision notification system
Some black boxes only record information for brief periods of time before, during, and after a crash. Others function for longer periods of time and can record information regarding the operation of the vehicle, including:
- Acceleration rate
- Fuel consumption
- Total length of time driven
- Seat belt usage
- Average revolutions per minute (RPM)
- Airbag performance
Black Boxes Should be Preserved for Litigation
Black boxes can typically record data for up to 30 days, after which new data records over and erases the old data. In states where black box data is considered the property of the trucking company, data may be destroyed by the company following an accident to avoid liability. It is, therefore, important that black boxes be preserved by the injured party or their attorney after an accident.
The data recorded by the black box may be used to prove that the trucking company was negligent or the driver was fatigued from driving for too long. If the driver or company logs differ from the black box data, it may be an indication that the company is not ensuring compliance with federal trucking laws such as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.
Parties to the accident must come to an agreement regarding the preservation of the black box data; otherwise, the injured party must file a protective order to ensure preservation of the evidence. The injured party must also seek a court order limiting access to the vehicle involved in the accident so that it may be inspected.
Cherry Hill Truck Accident Lawyers at Williams Cedar Represent Victims of Negligence and Misconduct
If you were injured in a truck accident, contact a skilled Cherry Hill truck accident lawyer at Williams Cedar. Our legal team is knowledgeable and experienced in handling all aspects of truck accident cases, including gathering and preserving black box evidence. From our offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide. Contact us online or call 856-470-9777 or 215-557-0099 for a free consultation.