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How Can a Truck’s Black Box Data Help You in a Truck Accident Case?

If you have just been through a harrowing truck collision, you know you are lucky to be alive. Collisions involving trucks are inherently more dangerous than other types of collisions. Most deaths in truck collisions are occupants in passenger vehicles. In fact, an overwhelming number of people – 96 percent — killed in a two-vehicle collision in 2018 involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck were the occupants in the passenger vehicles. And we have our share of tractor- and trailer-involved wrecks on Interstate 81 in Southwest Virginia.

truck accident attorney southwest Virginia

The vulnerability of those traveling in smaller vehicles is the main reason why these cases are so dangerous. It’s not uncommon for trucks to weigh up to 30 times as much as smaller passenger cars. Adding to that, they’re usually much taller and have greater ground clearance. Trucks can’t brake as quickly as smaller cars, taking up to 40 percent longer to come to a full stop.

Loss of control is often a big factor in such collisions. You may have eye witness accounts, police reports and medical records on your side after a collision, but the trucking company may not readily admit speeding led to loss of control of the truck. You’ll need evidence to support that claim, and it could all be contained in the truck’s “black box.”

Black Box: Preservation of Data

These boxes are known as ECMs (electronic control modules) or EDRs (event data recorders), and most commercial trucks are required to have them as per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the (FMSCA). This is a way for the trucking company to track and monitor their fleets, and can track, for instance, how fast the driver was going when the collision occurred, among many other things.

It’s imperative that the data in these boxes is preserved, and your truck accident attorney in Southwest Virginia can help you obtain that critical evidence to secure the highest compensation possible.

Tapping into this most dependable and objective source of information will be key in the progress of your case.

While similar to that in an airplane, the tracking data on a black box in a truck is the property of the trucking company or agency. It stands to reason that the trucking company then has access to this information and may have an opportunity to suppress or destroy that data. This makes it nearly impossible to recover that information unless you have someone experienced on your side.

A Snapshot in Time

The black box is important in any investigation. This extremely durable electronic device can survive a lot – from explosions and fires to submersion under water and violent impacts. It can reveal critical information about what happened in those precious seconds before a collision.

Helpful collision details displayed by EDR data can include:

  • The truck’s speed when the impact occurred
  • Which way the truck was going
  • Any sudden changes in velocity
  • When and if the brake was applied
  • When the gas pedal was pressed or released
  • Movement of the steering wheel
  • Seat belt usage of the driver
  • Whether the front airbag was deployed
  • Stability control issues such as oversteering or jackknifing
  • Any truck defects present, if any

Anything from sudden deceleration and hard braking to change in direction or skidding can all be captured on the black box. It’s important for this information to come to light if it can help your Southwest Virginia truck accident attorney back up your claims that the truck driver involved in your collision was indeed speeding. Your attorney can develop a timeline of events and provide an analysis of how the findings can impact your claim.

Time is of the essence in retrieving this valuable data, though, as many black boxes have limited storage space – usually about 30 days’ worth.

Contact Altizer Law

Our team of Southwest Virginia truck collision attorneys will pursue all avenues available to us to recover black box data from the driver of the truck involved in your collision to prove speed was a factor. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact us at 540-345-2000.