Black boxes are best known as the data recorders used to help identify the cause of airplane crashes, but black boxes can also be important in determining the cause of truck accidents. Most commercial trucks have black boxes that activate in the seconds before an accident, recording technical vehicle information and driver behavior. Some black boxes record ongoing information about the truck and the driver’s actions, providing even more information that can be used in determining what led to a crash.
What is the Black Box?
Black boxes are electronic data recorders, or EDRs, and they are installed in most commercial trucks and other types of motor vehicles. In modern diesel trucks, black boxes are triggered to begin recording when there are problems in the engine or sudden changes in wheel speed. Both these triggers can occur when an accident is imminent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets standards for electronic data recorders in 49 CFR Part 563 for recording elements including:
- the speed at which a vehicle is traveling
- whether the accelerator or brake is applied
- whether the driver’s safety belt is buckled
- whether the airbags deploy
- the number of crash events
- whether the EDR completed the recording
EDRs preserve data from sensors on the truck, and the data can be downloaded to provide information to law enforcement and attorneys about the cause of a collision. Data from a black box can be invaluable in a trucking accident case because it can help victims prove if speeding or other negligent driver behavior occurred in the moments before the accident.
Beginning in 2015, electronic data recorders can also be found in cars. California Vehicle Code Section 9951 establishes state rules for the installation of black boxes in new cars sold or leased throughout the state. However, under California law, a car’s black box data can generally only be released under certain conditions, including by court order or for road safety research.
In trucks, black box data may go beyond just recording information in the seconds leading up to a collision. On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). As part of MAP-21, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a new rule related to additional types of black box data in commercial trucks – Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).
ELDs record much more information than would typically be available in a standard black box. These devices are designed to help determine if a truck driver follows mandated rules for maximum hours-on-duty. ELDs record data over a period of 30 days, and include details like time driven, amount of times a trucker exceeds speed limits, highest speed driven, and seat belt usage. New FMCSA rules protect driver privacy by making sure this data is available only to law-enforcement when roadside inspections take place, to FMCSA personnel, and for use in truck accident investigations.
How is the Black Box Used in a Long Beach Trucking Accident Case?
The black box may be used to show a truck driver violated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) or other state rules for the operation of commercial trucks. Because the data in ELDs is recorded over every 30 days, it is imperative to request data as soon as possible after a truck crash. Your attorney can help to ensure you obtain all information from ELDs and/or EDRs in a truck accident.
Get Help from a Long Beach Truck Accident Lawyer
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks provides representation in truck accident cases. I have helped many clients successfully obtain black box data to help prove who was to blame for a trucking accident. Whenever you have been hurt by a truck driver or trucking company, I will fight for your right to full compensation after an injury occurs.
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