One important piece of evidence that can make or break a truck accident injury case is the truck’s black box. Also known as an event data recorder (EDR), the black box contains a lot of information that can be invaluable when proving driver fatigue or the trucking company’s liability in causing the wreck and the plaintiff’s injuries.
What Is a Black Box?
A black box is a device installed in a truck to record information about the truck’s movement and operation. The device is designed to detect certain actions and store data about the physical properties of a truck. For instance, the black box may record vehicle crash signature, driver inputs, pre-crash system status and vehicle dynamic, restraint usage, and post-crash data.
How a Black Box May Be Useful After a Truck Accident
The black box can track speed history, average RPMs, idling time, fuel consumption, gas mileage, performance, maintenance, trip distance, hours driven, and GPS coordinates. A truck accident is an event recorded by the EDR. It will give information about:
- Speed during the accident
- Airbag deployment
- Sudden acceleration or deceleration
- Brake applications or hard stop
- Steering input
- Engine throttle position
One piece of information can impact a claim significantly. A violation of the hours-of-service limits could help establish the cause of the collision, as fatigue becomes a contributing factor. Drowsy driving could be considered negligence. If the driver exceeded the posted speed limit or traveled between points too quickly, data may substantiate claims of speeding, carelessness, or erratic driving.
Time Is Critical When Preserving Information
Because the black box has a limited data storage ability, new data is usually recorded over old data in a loop. Most EDRs store data for 30 days, but older models could store information for less time. If information is not extracted from the black box as soon as possible, valuable evidence can be lost. Most trucking companies will not voluntarily provide the data.
A truck accident lawyer can write a spoliation letter to the trucking company, requiring the preservation of all information on the EDR. If the trucking company is not cooperative, the attorney can file an immediate protective order to limit access or movement of the vehicle and prohibit the trucking company from altering or destroying EDR data.