What Is a Truck’s “Black Box” and What Does It Do?

18-wheeler truck

A black box in a commercial truck resembles a black box in most passenger vehicles and airplanes. It is an electronic device that automatically records and stores driver and vehicle activity data.

A truck’s black box also records occupant and vehicle information for the seconds before, during, and after a collision. It provides data such as the truck’s speed, whether the airbags deployed, and seat belt usage. It can help while investigating a truck accident to determine whether the trucker violated federal or state laws, such as speeding right before the crash or skipping a federally mandated break.

Data Recorded by an Event Data Recorder

A black box is called an event data recorder (EDR). It records various information upon detecting an event, such as a collision. It is a primary source of crucial evidence in accident claims since the data might indicate the driver’s action before an accident and whether those actions contributed to the crash somehow.

Data commonly stored in an EDR include:

  • Whether the trucker used cruise control
  • Whether the truck driver applied their brakes before the crash
  • The speed of the truck immediately before the collision
  • The daily activity of the vehicle
  • GPS location of the truck
  • Tire pressure
  • Communications between the trucker and motor carrier, including mechanical issues, information about driver fatigue, and adverse weather conditions
  • Number of hard stops made by the truck driver and the duration between hard stops
  • Whether the trucker accelerated or decelerated in the moments before the collision
  • The frequency of the trucker exceeding a predetermined speed limit
  • Number of previous accidents involving the truck and the duration between each crash
  • Whether the truck driver wore their seatbelt
  • Usage data to confirm the accuracy of the information in the truck driver’s manual logbook
  • Whether the airbag deployed

How Is an EDR Helpful After a Truck Accident?

Truck drivers must comply with the hours of service (HOS) regulations. The regulations limit the hours a trucker can drive after off-duty hours. The EDR might show that the truck driver exceeded the maximum hours. Driving more hours than the eleven-hour limit permits can indicate that the driver felt fatigued, compromising their ability to drive safely.

Since an EDR also records the vehicle’s speed, it might prove the trucker exceeded the speed limit in the moments before the crash. Driving over the posted speed limit is dangerous and increases the risk of a collision. The trucker might have lost control of their vehicle or not had enough time to brake for stopped traffic.

An EDR is also beneficial if the information it contains shows that the trucker didn’t apply their brakes immediately before an accident. That might prove a distraction that pulled their attention from the road ahead. Perhaps they didn’t notice a stopped car in front of them or slowing traffic because they were eating at the wheel or sending a text on their cell phone.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer After a Truck Accident

EDRs store data for a specific number of days, depending on the manufacturer. Some devices record over the old data within days. That is why hiring a lawyer immediately after the crash is crucial. Your lawyer can send the motor carrier a letter requesting that they preserve the evidence. That can prevent the trucking company or driver from destroying the device or deleting information to avoid liability.

Your lawyer can also gather other evidence to build a solid claim against the trucker. The evidence needed will depend on the circumstances of your case but might include:

  • Police report
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Truck driver’s cell phone records
  • Accident scene photos
  • Traffic or security camera footage
  • Trucking company’s maintenance and repair records for the truck involved in the collision
  • Results from chemical tests taken to determine whether the trucker had alcohol or drugs in their system

Compensation Available in a Truck Accident Case

Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is mandatory for the owners of every registered New York motor vehicle. Anyone injured in an accident must file a claim with their PIP insurer before going after someone else for compensation.

PIP covers various expenses up to the policy limit, including:

  • 80% of lost earnings for up to three years after the crash with a maximum monthly payment of $2,000
  • Necessary and reasonable medical expenses to treat injuries from the accident
  • Up to $25 in daily reimbursement of other reasonable and necessary costs, such as the cost of transportation to and from doctor’s appointments or household assistance

You can file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the negligent party if you exhaust the PIP limit and your injury meets the definition of a serious injury under New York Insurance Code 5102(d). A serious injury is an injury that results in:

  • Permanent loss of use of a body function, system, member, or organ;
  • Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body member or organ;
  • Significant disfigurement;
  • Loss of a fetus;
  • Medically determined non-permanent injury or impairment that prevents the completion of all material acts constituting customary and usual daily activities for at least 90 days within 180 days of the injury or impairment
  • Dismemberment;
  • A significant limitation of the use of a body function or system;
  • A fracture; or
  • Death.

The compensation you receive in a third-party claim or lawsuit might cover your:

  • Emergency room visits, surgeries, hospital stays, and other medical expenses
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

Fight for Justice with a Dedicated New York Truck Accident Lawyer

You should seek immediate treatment after a truck accident. Your next call should be to Finz & Finz, P.C. We can start working on your case by investigating the crash and gathering evidence, including the EDR data. We will work diligently to prevent the trucking company and truck driver from destroying beneficial evidence that can prove liability.

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, call the New York truck accident attorneys of Finz & Finz, P.C. now at 855-TOP-FIRM for a free consultation. Let us help you hold the negligent party accountable and pursue the compensation you deserve.