Posted On August 22, 2016 In Truck Accidents
Commercial aircraft are required to have cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders. You may know of these devices as ‘the black box’, a term frequently used by the mainstream media after a major airplane crash. Black boxes record operational data on planes (such as the movement of rudders, ailerons or actions of the autopilot) and sounds from the cockpit. Without the black box, we wouldn’t be able to determine the causes of plane crashes. Commercial trucks also have a ‘black box’ called the electronic control module (ECM). ECMs are onboard computers that control and monitor engines, transmissions and braking systems.
Depending on the type of truck involved, ECMs can record varying information. For example, some ECMs can record truck speed, time driven, clutch use, cruise control status and sudden stops. If a trucker were to cause an accident, his or her ECM might show the truck was speeding at the time of the crash. Data collected from the ECM might also show whether a truck driver’s hours-of-service logs have been falsified. Remember, many ECMs record driving time!
Black box technology on trucks continues to improve. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are very similar to ECMs, but will be capable of recording driver behavior with greater accuracy. ELDs record engine hours, vehicle movement and location information. It would simplify the process of proving who is at fault in an accident. New Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules may make ELDs mandatory for all commercial trucks by December of 2017.
One of the greatest benefits of ELDs is that drivers would be unable to falsify driving logs that record the numbers of hours driven. At the moment, many commercial carriers still use written driving logs that truckers can falsify. Truckers can falsify these logs to skirt hours of service regulations that cap how many hours they can operate. As we have discussed in previous blogs, drowsy truckers are much more likely to cause accidents.
Roadside safety inspectors could view information on ELDs to determine whether drivers are over their hours of service limits. In addition, attorneys or law enforcement could pull ELD data to determine who is at fault in an accident.
Both ELDs and ECMs are important for proving negligence after a trucking accident. These devices can show whether truckers were violating hours of service rules or speeding. For these reasons, the data collected by ELDs and ECMs are often used as evidence in truck accident cases.
Commercial carriers may try to destroy ECM data to shed themselves of liability. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, it is extremely important to contact an attorney right away. Your attorney could take steps to file a protective order that would prevent the destruction of ECM or ELD data. A court order could also prevent access or tampering with the truck involved in your accident.
Remember, the data collected by ECMs and ELDs may be crucial for ensuring that you receive the care and resources needed to recover from your injuries or loss. Mike Love & Associates, LLC not only has experience handling truck accident cases, Mike Love is the former owner of a trucking company!
The Texas truck accident attorneys at Mike Love & Associates, LLC can help people who have been harmed by negligent commercial carriers and truckers.