“Black Box” Data: What Is it and Why Is it Important in Truck Accident Lawsuits?

Airplanes have “black box” recorders, but did you know that trucks have similar technology? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) requires all commercial trucks and buses to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) onboard. Most commercial trucks also have something called an Event Data Recorder (EDR).

Electric Logging Devices

ELDs log the number of hours a driver spends behind the wheel. This helps ensure that all truckers follow the law, which limits truckers’ driving time and helps prevent fatigue. Knowing whether the driver was fatigued can be critical to the outcome of a case. Studies show that driver fatigue is a factor in many truck accident cases, including high-profile cases like the one involving comedian Tracy Morgan.

Event Data Recorders

EDRs are more like airplane “black boxes” than ELDs because they log a wide range of information about how a trucker operated the truck. Commercial trucking companies first designed them to check up on their drivers, but ELDs also provide valuable information about what was going on just before and during a crash. ELDs can tell you:

  • GPS coordinates and location of the crash
  • The average speed of the truck/speed at the time of the accident
  • Whether the cruise control was on
  • Hard braking and sudden stops
  • Whether the driver wore a seatbelt
  • Whether the airbags deployed

Getting “Black Box” Data in Truck Accident Lawsuits

In a personal injury lawsuit, “black box” data can be the key to proving that the driver was at fault. But, actually getting the black box data can be tough. Legally, trucking companies are only required to share black box data with law enforcement. They aren’t required to turn it over to your lawyers immediately after a truck wreck.
Still, a skilled lawyer can obtain the black box data related to your truck accident. Obtaining it often involves quick action by an experienced attorney. While the law prevents trucking companies from deliberately destroying EDR data after a crash, data can sometimes be lost or overwritten when the truck is moved from the scene. Your attorney must act quickly to preserve valuable information.
At Ted B. Lyon & Associates, we use years of experience to get the most information possible after a crash. Contact us to speak with a lawyer and learn more about how ELDs or EDRs can be used to help build your case and protect your rights.