Black boxes are commonly used in air crash investigations in order to gain data about exactly how the plane and pilot were performing in the time leading up to the crash. The majority of commercial trucks now come complete with this same type of black box, and just as in a plane crash, these truck black boxes can also provide valuable information in case of a truck accident. In fact, if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, the information contained in the black box might be able to prove that the accident was in the truck driver’s fault. In this case, a truck accident lawyer might be able to help you receive compensation for any injuries, pain and suffering that resulted from the accident.
Laws Regarding Black Boxes
Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) requires that all commercial trucks and buses are equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD). This ELD logs the number of hours a driver is behind the wheel in order to ensure all truckers comply with laws regarding maximum allowable driving hours.
The federal government has laws specifically in place to limit the amount of consecutive hours a truck driver can be on the road in an effort to combat driver fatigue. The FMSCA notes that driver fatigue is a primary factor in at least 13% of truck accidents, and the ELD requirement was put in place to lower this number.
In addition to the mandatory electronic logging devices, the majority of commercial trucks also feature an Event Data Recorder (EDR). This device is extremely similar to the black boxes found in airplanes: it logs a wide range of information that can be used to determine exactly how the truck was operating in the moments leading up to an accident. These EDR black boxes can log the number of driving hours as with the ELD, but they can also keep track of all of the following data:
- GPS coordinates and location
- Average speed
- Cruise control usage
- Speed at time of accident
- If a driver speeds and for how long
- Hard braking and sudden stops
- Seatbelt use
- Deployment of airbags
Most trucking companies mandate the use of EDRs in order to monitor and track their employees’ driving behavior. However, the EDR information can also be invaluable when filing an injury claim against a truck driver or trucking company.
How to Obtain Commercial Truck Black Box Data
Although trucking companies are under no legal obligation to outfit their trucks with EDRs, the fact remains that the vast majority of commercial trucks are still equipped with them. Unfortunately, actually obtaining this information isn’t always so simple or straightforward. Even if a truck does have an EDR, the driver or trucking company isn’t legally required to share this information with you following an accident; in fact, most will fight against having to turn over this information since it could prove that the driver was liable for the accident.
However, the trucking company is required by law to share the EDR data with law enforcement to aid in their accident investigation. This is where a person injury lawyer St. Paul MN trusts may assist you, as your lawyer might be able to convince the investigators to share the data with you to assist you in your civil suit.
A truck’s black box often holds the key to proving that an accident wasn’t your fault. However, the fact that trucking companies aren’t usually willing to share this information means it is essential you hire an experienced attorney to get the legal help you need. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident with a truck, we may be able to help you get the EDR data and ensure that the trucker is held responsible for any injuries they caused.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Johnston Martineau PLLP for their insight into commercial truck accidents.