Black Box Data Explained
Very few accidents are as complicated, or as devastating, as those involving large semi-trucks. During a collision, these vehicles can cross multiple lanes of traffic and strike several drivers, adding to the confusion. You may not be sure how your accident occurred, much less on how to hold the driver at fault. However, like planes, semi-trucks are required to have black boxes that can record the exact moment an accident occurred and provide much-needed clarity when it comes time to file a claim.
Why Trucks Have Black Boxes
Since 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented the “ELD Rule,” which requires all trucking companies to install and utilize electronic logging devices (ELD) in their vehicles. These ELDs, or “black boxes,” are designed to track how long the driver has been on the road as well as the truck’s mileage, speed, GPS location, sudden stops or braking, and cruise control usage. However, while they were only recently made a requirement, many trucks have had them since the 1990s.
Black boxes are designed to make truck driving safer. In the past few decades, several government agencies, including the FMCSA, have tried to limit the dangers of “fatigued driving” among commercial drivers. Fatigued driving is often the result of drivers being overworked and rushed, meaning they are less likely to take breaks. Black boxes can keep track of break times and ensure that drivers are following a healthy sleep schedule. In addition, they also ensure that trucking companies do not try to force drivers to break the rules and drive while fatigued. This is all a part of the larger federal trucking regulations that truck companies must follow, otherwise, they can be found liable for an accident.
The Evidence on a Black Box
Black boxes are generally required to record information in a one hour time interval, meaning it can carry vital information prior to a truck accident.
For example, if the driver had driven while fatigued, the black box may record changes in speed, sudden stops or braking, or if the vehicle was in cruise control, all of which can support the idea that the driver was falling asleep at the wheel or having difficulty maintaining control over their vehicle. In addition, if the truck was overloaded, the black box may also note how the vehicle was handling leading up to the accident. If the engine was straining under a heavy load or taking longer than usual to come to a complete stop, it would show up in the black box’s records.
These boxes can prove incredibly useful after a collision, especially if a skilled attorney gets their hands on it.
How a Lawyer Can Obtain a Truck’s Data
Because most black boxes only store information for up to 30 days – and in older models, even less – you will need to act fast to collect all the evidence you can. Trucking insurance companies are not charitable and can deny your claim if you do not have enough evidence to support your accident. Securing black box data can be crucial to getting your compensation.
Trucking companies do not give black box data out freely, and your attorney will need to contact them immediately to ensure that no evidence is lost. They can do this by sending a “spoliation letter” to the trucking company. This letter will inform them that you intend to file a claim and that they should provide any available evidence over to your attorney for examination, including the black box data. A part of this letter includes warning the trucking company from destroying any evidence, often by threatening a lawsuit. Your attorney can also file a restraining order against the company that can bar them from destroying any evidence.
Collecting black box data is key to ensure you receive fair compensation after an accident. Very few walk away from a trucking accident with minor injuries, and you will need all the help you can get to financially, physically, and mentally recover from your accident. That is why you should not hesitate to contact a Gilette truck accident attorney at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. Our trial attorneys can immediately contact the at-fault trucking company and demand the black box data be handed over before it is lost. In addition, we can represent you throughout your claim and ensure you receive proper compensation from the trucking company. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at (307) 257-7800.
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