Most everyone has heard about the “little black box” onboard airplanes and searched for at the scene of aviation accidents. They need to be found as they hold important data just prior to the time of the crash, and that data can help federal officials determine the cause of the crash.
What many people may not know is that commercial vehicles also have little black boxes on board. And they, likewise, can provide vital clues in determining fault in catastrophic truck accidents.
Event Data Recorders on Commercial Vehicles
These devices are known as Event Data Recorders (EDR). They are on today’s passenger vehicles as well as large trucks. For commercial vehicles, they are known as Heavy Vehicle Event Data Recorders (HVEDR). There’s an important distinction between the two: while family car EDRs have standard data they track, HVDRs do not. That’s because each commercial vehicle engine manufacturer builds its own HVEDR, and determines what information to record.
Most HVEDRs, however, record:
- speed of the truck
- acceleration of the truck
- maintenance record of the truck
Each one of these data sets can be a key in investigating truck accident and determining fault.
Truck Accident Investigations
An event data recorder on a heavy commercial vehicle is more complex than those found on passenger vehicles. Trained experts versed on forensic protocols for retrieving HVEDR data should therefore be employed as part of any truck accident investigation. If proper rules are not followed, the data may be erased. And if documented improperly, data retrieved may not be admissible as evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit.
HVEDR data, while generally very reliable and accurate, is not always sufficient by itself for successful litigation. Proper retrieval and examination of the data should be one facet of a comprehensive heavy commercial vehicle accident investigation. Other vital components include accident reconstruction, weather and road condition examinations, in-depth investigations into vehicle maintenance and driver records, and experienced attorneys who know how to conduct the overall investigation.