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What is the truck’s black box and how can it help in my truck accident case?

Aftermath of a Collision With a TruckUnfortunately, thousands of people are hurt or killed in truck accidents each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,903 people were killed and 111,000 were injured in truck wrecks in 2014. If a loved one or you was the victim of one of these crashes, you will need to prove the truck driver’s and trucking company’s negligence in order to obtain the compensation you need and deserve. One powerful piece of evidence that can help your attorney and you do this is the truck’s black box. However, you need to hurry to obtain the data it contains before it is destroyed.

What Is a Truck Black Box?

A black box is also known as an electronic control module (ECM) or event data recorder (EDR) and is similar to airplane black boxes. Truck manufacturers originally began using EDRs to defeat warranty claims, and most trucks manufactured since the 1990’s will have a black box integrated into their engine components. These devices store data about the physical properties of the truck that is involved in an “event,” which includes an accident or near accident. Many regional and national trucking companies also use satellite tracking equipment or trip recorders to monitor their fleet of trucks. The electronic data from these types of devices can be vital in proving your case.

Helpful Information the Truck’s EDR Can Provide in Your Case

A black box can be a main source of information regarding the truck, its trip, and where it was right before a crash. The data you can obtain from the EDR will vary depending on the engine manufacturer. Helpful information that could be recorded includes:

  • What the truck’s speed was immediately before the crash
  • Whether there was a sudden deceleration or acceleration
  • Whether the brakes were applied and when
  • Whether the trucker was using cruise control
  • The monthly or daily truck activity
  • How frequently the truck was driven above a predetermined speed limit like 65 mph
  • Whether the trucker was wearing a seat belt
  • Whether the air bag deployed
  • Number of hard stops and the RPM between stops
  • Tire pressure
  • Number of times the truck was involved in a crash and the time between crash events
  • GPS location information
  • Communications between the trucker and trucking company, including emails that could contain a wealth of information regarding driver fatigue, mechanical problems with the truck, and other important admissions
  • Usage data that can be compared to the trucker’s log to determine if the trucker was violating the hours-of-service regulations regarding the maximum amount of time he can drive without a break

Importance of Preserving Black Box Information Quickly

Most EDRs record data for 30 days before the information is recorded over, but older model trucks’ black boxes could record over this information in a much shorter time period. In addition, some trucking companies could intentionally destroy this data, and most companies will not voluntarily provide you with this data. That is why it is critical that you contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible who can write a spoliation letter to the trucking company advising them of your claim and directing them to not destroy this vital information.

Your attorney will also want to hire an expert to be present for the download of the electronic data contained in the EDR and any other electronic recording devices. This will help avoid downloading problems—intentional or inadvertent—that can result in destruction of evidence. Another option is for the attorney to enter into an agreement with the trucking company as to how, when, and where the information will be downloaded. If the trucking company refuses to turn over this information, your attorney will need to file an immediate lawsuit and request a temporary restraining order to stop the trucking company from destroying this evidence.

If you or a family member were injured in a truck crash, Brauns Law, PC may be able to help you recover the data from the truck’s black box and other important evidence to hold the negligent trucker and trucking company responsible for compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Start an online chat today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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