The Importance of Black Box Data Following a Truck Accident

If you have been involved in an accident involving a large commercial truck, it is important to understand the importance of the truck’s Electronic Onboard Recorder (EOBR)—also known as the “black box.” The use of these devices has been a controversial issue in the trucking industry for years. Congress attempted to mandate the use of black boxes in 2013, but the trucking industry has consistently fought against such laws. Many truck drivers and trucking companies equate laws requiring black boxes in all commercial trucks with “Big Brother” watching them. Advocates for these laws believe that requirements to have black box data recorders installed in every commercial truck would result in much safer roadways.

How Long Have Black Boxes Been in Use?

In fact, these devices have been around for a considerable length of time. In 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended EOBRs be mandatory for all large commercial trucks. Since that time the issue has been hotly debated between lawmakers, the NTSB and those in the trucking industry. The devices were originally designed to protect engine manufacturers against warranty claims. However, information and data collected by a black box device is extremely useful in establishing fault following a truck accident.

Despite the fact there is currently no federal mandate for black box recorders to be installed on large trucks, a significant number of trucks currently on the roadways do have the devices installed. There are, as yet, no nationwide set of standards for the devices, meaning not every truck’s black box will gather the same information. Depending on the device, black boxes have the capability to collect such information as:

• RPMs of the engine for a specific period of time prior to the accident;
• Usage history of the truck’s engine;
• Daily usage of the truck’s engine;
• Whether the brakes were applied prior to the accident;
• Any engine fault codes or engine problems;
• Anti-locking brake system;
• Tire pressure;
• Whether the cruise control was engaged;
• The speed of the vehicle as well as average speeds;
• A history of the truck’s maintenance, and
• Critical event data such as incidents of hard braking or rapid deceleration.

Why is the Black Box Information So Crucial?

Following a truck collision, the information gathered from the truck’s black box can greatly assist in the accident reconstruction process. The black box can provide information regarding the driver’s actions immediately prior to the crash, as well as information regarding the condition of the truck. When a truck accident occurs, the trucking company will immediately visit the crash site with a goal of minimizing the company’s liability. This can include removing the black box, and in some cases, towing the truck to an undisclosed location to prevent others from inspecting it.

How to Obtain Black Box Information

Because black box data is not always freely provided by the trucking company, it is imperative you have an experienced truck accident attorney by your side as soon as possible following the accident. Your attorney can have a subpoena issued for the black box data before it “mysteriously” disappears. Used in conjunction with other evidence collected by your attorney, you stand a much better chance of receiving an equitable settlement for your injuries.

Contact Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured in a trucking accident in the Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, or State of Maryland, contact the trucking accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates. Our trucking accident lawyers understand the importance of a truck’s black box data and we work tirelessly to collect this evidence if needed. Through proper accident reconstruction, we can often build a case that is designed to prove liability and maximize compensation after a devastating trucking accident. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6645 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.

The trucking accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other locations throughout Maryland and Virginia.