A truck accident is one of the most devastating accidents you can experience on the road. Basic physics just isn’t in your favor—trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger cars and have much higher ground clearance.
It should come as little surprise, then, that most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants.
If you or a loved one is suffering the consequences of a truck driver’s carelessness, you need to collect evidence to build your case. Fortunately, many trucks come equipped with the functionality to provide that evidence. Here’s why truck driver data is essential to your case.
Trucking companies live and die by the efficiency of their drivers. As such, they have to find ways to make their drivers more efficient. But they can’t be in the cab with the driver at all times.
So, trucking companies started using something that airlines have used for years: event data recorders, a.k.a. black boxes.
This technology has long been used in commercial airplanes to find out what happened in the moments leading up to a plane crash, since much of the plane is destroyed when it goes down and eyewitnesses are hard to come by.
Trucking companies now use them in all of their cabs to record instances and driving habits. It’s now a requirement in all commercial trucks, though not for efficiency reasons.
Property-carrying commercial truck drivers can only be on the road for 11 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Truck drivers used to record this data by using physical logs. The problem (which regulators figured out rather quickly) was that truck drivers are highly incentivized to maximize their efficiency, i.e. drive longer and fudge the record.
Black boxes take recording out of the driver’s hands. And that’s fantastic news for your accident case.
That said, there are a few key points to know about black boxes.
Black boxes collect data from a short timeframe—only about 20 seconds around the crash. But factors influencing your accident can happen much further back than 20 seconds, so you need to supplement black box data with other sources.
There are a few ways to supplement black box evidence. One of them is GPS data, which companies often use to keep track of their drivers’ location, speed of travel, and detours. GPS data also records a much longer timeframe than black box data, giving you a broader scope to work with.
Another option is video surveillance, which many large trucking companies now keep on board. We recently handled a trucking case where this evidence was available, and the surveillance clearly showed the truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, causing the accident.
All commercial trucks now carry black boxes—and these days, so do most cars. They’re part of the automated safety system that allows a car to make split-second decisions, like whether to deploy airbags.
Because of this, black boxes have to collect data that would allow them to differentiate between ordinary driving and behavior that most likely indicates an accident, such as braking, acceleration, velocity, and other key factors.
When you extract the data, it becomes hard evidence to corroborate your story of how an accident occurred. A truck driver may claim that they slowed down when they actually sped up—a black box will reveal what really happened.
Plus, because black boxes work with other technology in the cab to help trucking companies track driver behavior and hours, you can use it as evidence to argue that the driver was fatigued and careless.
However, while black boxes are now required, many companies still use handwritten logs. Again, companies are driven by efficiency, which means they’re highly incentivized to make drivers stay on the road longer and fudge their records. However, this can actually work in your favor if the logs don’t match with black box, GPS, and surveillance data, as it strengthens the case for negligence.
The tricky part is actually collecting the evidence. Black boxes used to be accessed primarily by car engineers to assess a car’s safety performance. Investigators of various stripes (insurance investigators, police, etc.) now use black boxes as evidence, but you still need a specialist to extract the data—and an attorney to get the trucking company to hand the data over. And keep in mind that trucking companies will immediately send their attorneys and investigators to collect evidence—in order for you to be successful, you need the same level of support on your side.
That’s where we come in.
Collecting evidence right away is crucial. We know that the fight against your insurance company and a trucking company can feel like impossible odds, and the other parties will go to great lengths to make you give up. Lack of access to an expert is just one more barrier they can place in your way.
At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, our attorneys have fought for car accident victims since 1984, which means we have the professional connections necessary to collect crucial evidence. More than that, we have the drive and dedication to ensure that truck driver data works in your favor.
If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation.