We’re all familiar with the “black box,” the electronic recording device placed in airplanes to provide information to investigators in the event of a plane crash. As a society, we recognize the importance of compiling this information to prevent future accidents, even though American commercial aviation is the safest form of travel in the world. The last commercial airline fatality in the United States was almost ten years ago. The collection of black box data in trucking accident cases is a different story, however.
Why not show this same commitment to safety in the commercial trucking industry, which causes much greater damage than the aviation industry? There are over 500,000 trucking accidents every year in this country, resulting in approximately 5,000 deaths. Despite the availability of Event Data Recorders (EDRs) that could provide valuable information about the cause of a commercial truck accident, they are still not required by law.
In 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a ruling setting forth the requirements for the type of data an EDR must record, including:
- pre-crash speed
- engine throttle
- brake use
- changes in forwarding velocity
- driver safety belt use
- airbag deployment times
All of that data will hopefully improve commercial trucking safety moving forward, but the above requirements only apply if the truck manufacturer voluntarily chooses to install an EDR. There is no requirement that truck manufacturers must install EDRs. In 2012, the NHTSA proposed a rule that would establish a new safety standard mandating the installation of EDRs in most trucks, but with the help of the trucking industry lobby, this proposed rule has so far been rejected by lawmakers.
For now, an EDR is still a valuable tool for determining the cause of an accident involving a truck that is equipped with one. The EDR may hold information crucial to your case, but it is essential to consult an attorney with the expertise to obtain the data from the trucking company and interpret it correctly. Please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman today, or call us at 816.474.0004 for a free consultation with an experienced commercial truck accident attorney. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.