If you’ve ever stopped to think that installing black boxes on commercial trucks to record accident data just as airlines are required to do, you should be happy to know that the technology exists and is already in place. The bad news is that the data collected by these devices is difficult to preserve because it is controlled primarily by the very trucking companies that it could be used against following a truck accident. That is similar to allowing a burglar to control the evidence collected at the scene of his crime! Black boxes on trucks can be invaluable not only in proving fault following accidents but in keeping trucking companies in check where safety is concerned— and this is why we must preserve them at all costs.
How Black Boxes Work and the Data They Collect
Black boxes are not a new concept to the trucking industry, and you may be surprised to learn that devices known as Electronic Control Modules have been installed on commercial trucks since the 1990s. The original intent of the technology had nothing whatsoever to do with truck safety, unfortunately, and the black boxes functioned primarily to settle disputes over engine warranty claims. Data collected from the devices includes information that is entirely relevant to ongoing truck crash investigations, however, and when it is preserved it often provides victims with all of the evidence needed to make claims against negligent truck companies or drivers.
- Electronic Control Modules record the average speed spanning roughly thirty days, including information about how fast the truck was traveling at specific points in time.
- Black boxes record the hours the drivers are moving, which allows authorities to identify discrepancies when logs have been falsified to more for more extended periods than the law allows.
- Data is collected that reveals how well the truck itself has performed as well as how the driver has treated his or her truck. Engine RPM, brake application, and even seat belt usage are all recorded, and this data can pinpoint whether the truck was maintained properly, whether a defect caused an accident and if the driver improperly operated the vehicle.
- In the event of an accident, the Electronic Control Module records the speed traveled at the time of impact, when the brakes were applied, the deployment of the airbag and the force exerted at the point of impact. This data is everything an accident reconstruction specialist would need to recreate the scene and conditions of the accident.
Preserving Black Box Evidence is a Challenge
Commercial trucking companies are entirely aware of how damaging the data recorded on their black boxes can be. Imagine what type of case you could make if a black box reveals that the driver consistently violated hours of service requirements or that the truck was in a decrepit condition at the time of an accident. For this reason, once a crash has been reported, a race begins between the trucking company and the legal representatives of the victim over the collection of the data on the black box. Sadly, when the trucking company reaches it first, it is often never seen or heard from again.
Steps can be taken to preserve the Electronic Control Module or the data recorded on it, but it's important to act quickly without delay. Many states still deem this information as the property of the trucking companies, but a restraining order can be filed with the court that prohibits the destruction of the data due to its value in a pending investigation. The next step is to preserve the vehicle itself and ensure that the trucking company cannot move it or alter it in any way.
The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have access to specialists in accident reconstruction that can piece together the data collected from black boxes as well as evidence found at the scene of a truck accident so that you have the best chance of successfully proving negligence in your truck accident case. Also, our specialists in several relevant fields can accurately assess the value of our clients’ damages to ensure the highest recovery possible under the law. If you have been involved in a truck accident, contact us right away to arrange a free consultation with an attorney with no risk or obligation.
We’d be happy to explain the laws that apply to your case, review your legal options with you and let you know how we can assist you with your claim. Our attorneys only collect payment upon the agreement of a settlement or judgment award in your favor. If we are unable to obtain compensation on your behalf, our services will be free of charge.