The Role of Black Boxes In Trucking Accident Investigations

Commercial vehicle accidents are among the most devastating collisions on our streets and highways. A semi-truck crash is often violent in nature and happens very suddenly. As a result, questions may arise as to how the accident occurred. Naturally, truck drivers and trucking companies will seek to minimize the role that the truck driver played in the crash. A thorough investigation is necessary in order to determine the exact cause of the collision.

Most commercial trucks in America are equipped with event data recorders, other known as “black boxes.” The black box contains a wealth of information that can be useful in determining how an accident occurred. While there is no law requiring the use of black boxes in trucks, they are usually the first thing that an investigator will check following a truck accident. Knowing how to access the truck’s black box in order to analyze and preserve evidence is a key component of truck accident litigation.

If you have been affected by a truck accident, you should take immediate action to ensure that all relevant data is preserved. Having a national truck accident attorney to assist you will greatly increase the chances that important information is not lost or destroyed during the course of an investigation.

The Role of a Black Box  The Role of Black Boxes In Trucking Accident Investigations

Beginning in the 1970s, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that vehicle manufacturers work together to improve the collection of onboard data regarding vehicle performance and crashes. Then, beginning in 1999, General Motors began using devices that recorded pre-crash data for the first time. Over time and as technology improved, most vehicles became equipped with sensory systems that recorded a variety of data designed to assist investigators in piecing together how a crash might have occurred.

These developments made their way to the trucking industry. Today, black boxes are utilized in commercial semi-trucks to collect the following types of important data and information:

  • Sudden braking
  • Deceleration
  • Airbag deployment
  • Seatbelt tensioner activation
  • Wheel turning
  • Speed
  • Clutch operation

Many of these events provide key clues in the context of an accident. A review of black box data may lead investigators to confirm their initial theories of the crash or, in some cases, may contradict their thoughts altogether. In any event, the black box contains a wealth of information that may be helpful to an injured victim in a truck crash case.

How Do Black Boxes Benefit Crash Victims?

There are more than 5,000 fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries reported in truck accidents across the United States each year. The injuries sustained in these crashes are often serious in nature. Victims who survive the accident may nevertheless suffer a loss of consciousness or maybe in shock following the collision. The traumatic nature of a truck crash means that many injured victims remember nothing about the accident itself or the moments leading up to it. Police are then forced to rely on the statement of the truck driver, especially if there were no witnesses to the crash.

A truck’s black box contains very important clues as to how the accident occurred. In the absence of memory, the black box can show information such as how fast the truck was driving in the moments leading up to the crash. The black box can also provide clues as to the driver’s reaction time by showing instances of sudden braking. In some cases, the driver’s failure to brake may provide evidence of negligence. The black box will also show the truck’s general direction of travel leading up to the collision.

Black boxes can help accident victims prove their case and provide crucial information in the fight to determine who was really at fault for a commercial truck accident.

Obtaining Black Box Data

Data from a truck’s black box is only useful if victims can obtain it for use. Trucking companies are not generally under any duty to maintain information on the black box for any period of time. Some companies have routine practices of deleting and overwriting data after a certain number of days or hours. Black boxes have a limited amount of storage space, and old information is pushed out as new information comes in.

Following a truck crash, it is vital to ensure that all data contained in the box is preserved and maintained. In order to do this, trucking companies must be put on notice at the soonest possible time not to destroy, alter, or damage the truck’s black box. Legally, your national truck accident attorney can send a letter of non-spoliation to the company. Non-spoliation letters essentially put the trucking company on notice to keep the black box in its current condition and not to destroy or alter any of its data.

Waiting too long to seek the preservation of data can result in the loss of key information needed to prove your case. If a trucking company has not received a non-spoliation letter, they may be free to delete or overwrite the black box with little or no consequences. At that point, it becomes your word against the truck driver.

Trucking companies have aggressive attorneys who will defend them by all means necessary. In order to have a fair shot at winning your case, you need to have access to all of the available information. By acting immediately, you ensure that this key data and information is preserved for your benefit.

Hire a National Truck Accident Lawyer

Receiving compensation for a truck accident is a long and sometimes frustrating process. It is absolutely essential to have an experienced United States truck crash lawyer who is ready to fight for you. Your attorney will be able to receive and review all of the evidence in order to assist you in protecting your rights and securing your future.

We offer free consultations for all potential and prospective clients. Do not wait until it is too late to take action. To speak with one of our attorneys, please reach out to us via our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-1236.

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