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Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?

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Posted on September 20, 2021

A black box, also called an event data recorder, is an electronic device installed in motor vehicles. It can record a range of information right before, during, and after an accident. The black box can be helpful in crash investigations to determine whether the driver’s actions contributed in any way.

In 2020, 291 people sustained injuries, and 45 people died in accidents involving large trucks in Washington. Although federal regulations hold truck drivers to a high standard, accidents still happen. The occupants of passenger cars often suffer more debilitating injuries than truck occupants. If truck driver error was a factor in the collision, the black box could prove what happened and help an attorney hold them liable for their misconduct.

What Is a Black Box?

Many motor vehicles contain an EDR. Motor carriers might choose to install them in their commercial trucks to store data associated with an accident. This can help show the events leading up to a crash and what the driver was doing.

The information stored in an EDR depends on the specific manufacturer but could include:

  • Whether the driver accelerated or decelerated suddenly before the collision
  • The speed of the truck in the seconds before the accident
  • Whether the driver applied their brakes
  • Whether cruise control was on
  • Daily or monthly activity of the vehicle
  • The frequency of the driver traveling above a predetermined speed limit
  • Whether the airbags deployed
  • Whether the truck driver wore their seat belt
  • The number of hard stops, including the RPM between those stops
  • GPS information showing the truck’s location
  • The number of times the vehicle ended up in a collision and the amount of time between those incidents
  • Tire pressure
  • Usage data to determine whether the truck driver violated federal regulations, such as the maximum driving limit
  • Communications between the trucking company and trucker, including emails with information regarding mechanical issues with the vehicle, driver fatigue, and other vital details

The black box used along with the truck driver’s logbook, where they record their total driving hours, number of breaks, off-duty hours, and additional trip information, can show whether the trucker’s actions resulted in the crash. If it’s determined that the truck driver behaved negligently, they or the trucking company could be held liable for the injured party’s medical treatment and other expenses.

Why You Need to Preserve the Black Box Immediately Following a Truck Accident

Newer EDR models might store data for up to four weeks before they record new data. However, older models could record over previously-stored information much sooner. Unfortunately, some trucking companies will destroy the evidence to avoid liability for a crash. That’s why it’s essential to hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Your lawyer can send the trucking company a letter informing them of your claim and asking that they preserve evidence associated with the accident. This could avoid potential problems, such as misplaced, lost, or intentionally destroyed data.

During the investigation, your lawyer will review the contents of the black box to determine whether the truck driver’s reckless misconduct caused the crash. Information, such as the number of hours they spent on the road, could indicate that the trucker might have been too tired to operate their vehicle safely. If speeding were involved, the truck driver could be at fault for driving above the posted speed limit.

Unfortunately, not all commercial trucks contain an electronic recording device. It isn’t a legal requirement to install them. During their investigation, your lawyer can gather other evidence to prove the truck driver should be held financially responsible for your injuries. Eyewitness testimony, traffic camera footage, and photos from the accident scene could strengthen your case.

Contact Us

Caffee Law is ready to represent you in your case and seek the justice you deserve. We will advocate for your rights and pursue the maximum compensation possible. Trucking companies and truck drivers should be held accountable for their wrongdoing. You can depend on us to fight by your side until the end.

Our truck accident lawyers understand the uphill battle you face. Commercial trucks often cause massive destruction and severe injuries in collisions with other vehicles. You likely require ongoing medical treatment to heal. The expenses associated with a truck accident can lead to financial strain and possibly debt. We don’t want to burden you with additional costs, which is why we take cases on contingency. You won’t have to pay us unless we secure compensation on your behalf.

If you suffered injuries in an accident involving a commercial truck, do not hesitate to contact Caffee Law at (206) 312-0954. We can discuss the incident during a free consultation and advise your legal options for securing the money you’re owed from the negligent truck driver or trucking company.