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Do 18-Wheelers Use Black Boxes?

Truck Accident Lawyer

After an 18-wheeler accident, the insurance company for the 18-wheeler usually steps into action to try to dispute liability or fault – that is, to try to find a way to argue that the 18-wheeler driver is not at fault. This is because most 18-wheelers have over $1 million of insurance coverage and so, for the company, any accident can be a high stakes possibility.

The issue of who is at fault for an accident can be simplified with data such as video or black box data according to a truck accident lawyer with our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer. Many 18-wheelers (large commercial trucks) are equipped with dashcam video that could capture exactly how the accident occurred. Additionally, many 18-wheelers have event data recorders (EDRs), commonly referred to as “black boxes.” These EDRs are similar to the black boxes found in airplanes and can record various data related to the vehicle’s operation. However, the specific capabilities and requirements for EDRs in commercial trucks can vary by jurisdiction and regulations.The data stored in these black boxes can be crucial in accident investigations and can help determine what happened leading up to and during an accident. They can provide valuable information for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and improving road safety.

How Black Box Data is Used in Accident Investigations

Speed and Acceleration: One of the most critical pieces of information that can be extracted from an ECM is the speed of the truck leading up to and during the accident. This data can help investigators determine if the truck was driving within the legal speed limits and whether excessive speed played a role in the accident.

Braking and Deceleration: Information about braking patterns and deceleration rates can reveal whether the truck driver attempted to stop or slow down before the collision. Sudden or improper braking can be a key factor in accidents.

Engine Status: ECMs also record engine status, which includes details like throttle position, engine RPM, and fuel consumption. These data points can provide insights into the driver’s actions and the overall performance of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Time Stamps: ECMs typically record data with precise time stamps, allowing investigators to create a timeline of events leading up to the accident. This helps in establishing the sequence of actions by the truck driver and other vehicles involved.

Impact Data: Some ECMs are equipped with accelerometers that record the force of impact during a collision. This information can be critical in determining the severity of the accident and its potential consequences.

Driver Behavior: In addition to vehicle-related data, some ECMs can also record driver behavior, such as seatbelt usage, driver inputs (steering, throttle, and brakes), and hours of service compliance. This information can be crucial in assessing driver negligence or fatigue.

The Legal Significance of Black Box Data

Black box data from 18-wheelers can be a powerful tool in car accident investigations. It provides objective and irrefutable evidence that can help establish liability and contribute to a more accurate reconstruction of the accident. Courts often admit this data as evidence in legal proceedings, making it invaluable for both accident victims and trucking companies in determining fault and liability.If you have recently been in an accident and need help gathering data for your case, contact an attorney near you.