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Black Boxes Key to Truck Accident Litigation

According to one legal news source, over 500,000 trucking accidents occur every year in the United States. Approximately 5,000 of these truck accidents result in fatalities and even more result in serious injury or property damage. Many of these truck accident cases rely on evidence obtained from the commercial rigs themselves such as driver log books, which is a written or electronic log of the driver’s time driving and resting, and black boxes. Black Boxes, also known as “electronic control modules” or “event data recorders” are electronic devices equipped in trucks that gather data about trip history and driver input. Additionally, if a commercial truck is involved in an accident, data about the crash is also recorded by the vehicle’s black box.

A truck’s EDR is “a device that stores data about the physical properties of a vehicle that is involved in an “event,” which can include an accident or near accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), EDRs record “(1) pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status, (2) driver inputs, (3) vehicle crash signature, (4) restraint usage/deployment status, and (5) post-crash data such as the activation of an automatic collision notification (ACN) system.” Many compare EDrs to flight recorders found in commercial and private planes. This data can be critical during truck accident cases.

More specifically, EDRs are required (by the National Highway Transporation and Safet Adminstration) to capture the following data when a truck is being operated: “vehicle speed (5 seconds before impact); engine throttle (5 seconds before impact); brake use (5 seconds before impact); change in velocity (for up to 3 seconds after impact); Safety belt status, driver; driver frontal airbag deployment; right front passenger frontal airbag deployment; number of crash events; and time between crash events, if applicable.”

Source: Metropolitan Corporate Counsel “Truck’s Black Box Is Key To Accident Litigation” 01/03/2011