Commercial vehicles can sometimes weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Thousands of North Texans are injured each year in accidents involving these vehicles, which cause catastrophic damage to cars and serious injuries to the occupants inside. For the attorneys representing the victims, proving negligence on the part of the truck driver, trucking company or truck maintenance provider or manufacturer becomes the biggest challenge.
Advances in Engine Control Module (ECM) data have made it possible to get a clear picture of what happened in a trucking accident. Today ECMs can record a much larger range of date that can be utilized to prove what actually occurred. In addition to revealing how hard the truck driver applied the brakes immediately before the collision and at what speed the truck was travelling, ECMs also collect the following information:
- Tire pressure
- GPS location at the time of impact
- Vehicle’s hours of service
- Whether the driver was using cruise control
- Whether the driver was wearing a safety belt
- Communications between the trucker and the trucking company
How does all of this information help in a personal injury case? One example is if the black box records that the driver failed to brake at all before a collision. That might be a sign that the driver had drifted off to sleep, was distracted or intoxicated. The black box can also show if the truck driver has been overworked and therefore not had sufficient sleep.
Safety technology is going beyond ECMs in the trucking industry. “Some companies are installing electronic devices to ensure the driver isn’t impaired and regulators to govern how fast the driver can go. There are also efforts being made in overall increased driver training,” Brad Parker says.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the top three causes for truck accidents were where the driver failed to maintain control in their own lane, they were driving faster than the posted speed limit or failed to yield to another vehicle. If the accident was not the truck driver's fault, black box data can exonerate him or her.
Brad says, “Additional issues arise if the truck has been overloaded. The brakes won’t work adequately. Loads can become unstable, and the possibility increases that the trailer could tip over.”
Regardless of who the black box data benefits, it is useful information when investigating a case. For a victim or their family, it often helps to prove what really happened at the accident scene, which may not be found any other way. Knowing what happened and helping to prevent future accidents are the two major reasons that most people seek the advice of an attorney, regardless of what happened in the crash.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.