Do Big-Rig Trucks Actually Use “Black Boxes”?
In a collision involving a passenger vehicle and a big rig, occupants of the passenger vehicle are likely to suffer serious injuries. The average passenger vehicle weighs 4,000 pounds, while a fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh 80,000 pounds or more. When a crash is caused by the trucker or trucking company, black box data can be used as evidence in a claim for compensation brought by injured victims or their families. Most big rigs have some type of black box.
What Is a Truck’s Black Box?
The term “black box” actually comes from the aviation industry. Airplanes have safety devices known as black boxes that track data during flights. If a plane crash should occur, investigators can use black box data to help determine what caused it.
Today, event data recorders are also used in the trucking industry. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) that meet certain performance and design standards are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This requirement applies to most truck drivers and most carriers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status.
What Type of Information Does a Black Box Record?
Black boxes are mainly required to keep track of the number of hours a driver is on the road to help prevent fatigued driving. They record a wealth of data, including:
- Speed of the truck at the time of the crash
- Whether the brakes were applied
- Average speed of the truck
- Coordinates of the collision
- Positions of the steering wheel and tires
- Mechanical status of the truck
- Any abrupt stops or hard braking
- Whether cruise control was being used
- Deployment of airbag
- Tire pressure
- Truck activity
- Communications between the driver and the trucking company
This is crucial information that can help investigators and your attorney determine how the accident occurred and what caused it. For example, if black box data shows that the trucker was braking improperly, driving erratically, speeding, or violating hours of service regulations (driving fatigued), or that the crash was caused by mechanical failure, the driver or trucking company may be held liable for resulting injuries.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You Retrieve Black Box Data?
Your best chance of recovering critical black box data after a truck accident is to have an experienced personal injury lawyer handling your claim. Your attorney can take the appropriate action to obtain an Order to Preserve. This is a legal document that will require the trucking company to preserve the black box, which could be used as evidence in a lawsuit arising from the accident.
Why Should You Contact an Attorney Right Away?
Most ELDs store data for 30 days, after which the information is recorded over. For some black boxes, the time period is even shorter. The trucking company will not voluntarily provide an accident victim with black box data and may even intentionally destroy the data. The sooner you get an experienced truck accident attorney on your side, the sooner your lawyer can take action to preserve this critical evidence.
Why Choose Us?
DiBella Law Offices, P.C. was founded in 2007. Founding attorney Christopher DiBella has been practicing law for nearly two decades. He has been named by several legal associations as one of the top litigators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Truck accidents can cause serious or fatal injuries for passenger vehicle occupants. Trucking companies and their insurance companies have teams of lawyers ready to fight against your claim. If you have lost a loved one or been seriously injured in a big rig collision, contact us at (978) 327-5140 to get an experienced Massachusetts truck accident lawyer with a successful track record in your corner.