Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents are uniquely frightening experiences. Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds fully loaded, while most passenger cars only tip the scales at around 3,000 pounds. When a passenger car is caught in the path of a reckless or negligent truck driver, it is typically the individuals in the passenger car that pay the price. Significant physical injuries and emotional distress are not uncommon.
It is also not uncommon for victims of truck accidents to find the process of filing a claim and recovering adequate compensation challenging. Proving that a truck driver was negligent and that their insurance should cover your expenses can be difficult. Evidence that may help substantiate your claim can sometimes be found on the truck’s black box.
Similar to data recorders on airplanes, commercial trucks also have a black box that records specific data. This data can sometimes support a victim’s truck accident claim and help them obtain the money they deserve.
What Is a Black Box?
Most commercial trucks are outfitted with a black box. Although not required by law, these devices have been installed in almost every commercial truck on the road today. The black box is also known as an electronic control module or ECM. Some models are known as event data recorders or EDRs. Both ECMs or EDRs are integrated into the engine of the vehicle. It is a computerized system that records data about the physical properties of the truck while it is in use.
An ECM will store the truck’s data when the vehicle is involved in an accident or, sometimes, a near-accident. Different ECM models capture different types of data, but in general, a black box can record the following information about the truck:
- The truck’s speed before the crash
- Sudden acceleration or deceleration before the crash
- Whether the truck’s brakes were applied and when they were applied
- Whether the truck was on cruise control
- Whether the driver was wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision
- The number of hard stops
- The RPMs between stops
- Tire pressure
- GPS location data
- How often the truck was operating at, above, or below the speed limit
A black box can also record truck usage data, such as when and how long a truck has been driven. Some models can also record communications between the truck driver and the trucking company. These communications can include emails that may detail information about mechanical issues, driver fatigue, or other issues that could have a bearing on the cause of the crash.
Black Box Data
A black box captures a wealth of information about the moment before a collision. This information can shed light on the circumstances of the accident and potentially who is at fault for causing the crash. An ECM can help determine whether a driver was speeding just before a collision or if they violated the hours of service regulations.
As important as this information can be to victims of truck accidents, there can be problems with obtaining this data. First, the data is not stored indefinitely. Many models can record data for 30 days before the information is deleted or recorded over. However, some models can only store data for a very short period. Second, the data contained on the truck’s black box is held by the trucking company. Often, victims don’t know to ask for this data, and trucking companies may not voluntarily comply with handing it over, even if a victim asks.
The most effective way of obtaining the data collected by a black box recorder is to hire an experienced truck accident attorney. An attorney can prepare a letter of spoliation and have it delivered to the trucking company. This letter notifies the company that they must preserve all evidence related to the crash, including the black box data. The letter also demands that evidence not be accidentally or intentionally tampered with, lost, or destroyed.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Immediately
If you have been hurt in a truck accident, the vehicle’s black box data may be able to help determine the cause of the accident. The data can also help strengthen your claim to pursue the compensation that you deserve. Unfortunately, a trucking company is generally not going to want to simply hand over this information to a victim. You need an aggressive and skilled attorney on your side.
If you have been involved in a serious truck accident and want to learn more about how the black box data may be important to your claim, contact Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC today. At Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC, we can investigate the circumstances of the accident and request access to the black box’s data. Call us at 337-800-8800 for a free consultation.