One of the first things that needs to be done when investigating an accident involving a tractor trailer is accessing EDR “Black Box” data from each vehicle involved. These devices are installed on the majority of Commercial and Passenger vehicles produced today and in many vehicles dating back as far as the mid 1990s. The data found in the black box can provide pre and post-crash information including speed and deltaV as well as identifying driver actions including throttle, braking and even seat belt usage.
EDRs in newer vehicles can provide even more robust data-sets including lateral deltaV, tire pressure, cruise control, averages speed, rpm, time spent in gear, ABS and Airbag information. This information is crucial when used by your accident reconstructionist. The EDR information can help accurately portray the accident sequence, identify causation and provide compelling evidence in a trial or mediation setting. This hard evidence can prove invaluable with a trucker who claims he was stopped or not speeding. The black box also contains historical data. This data can be used to show patterns of speeding or Hard Brakes as well as compare the drivers log book for inaccuracies.
Most dealerships and repair centers do not have the software, specific training or experience to download all of this critical and at times volatile data. Many times if the vehicle is driven after the MVA the data will be lost. It is imperative to put the trucking company on notice that you intend on downloading the data as soon as possible and for them to preserve the data.
Step One Retrieving the Data
Your expert should either download the data with the vehicle owner present or acquire the raw data from the tractor owner in a controlled exchange. Ever since December 1997 trucks with Detroit Diesel engines are EDS ready. In 2003 Mercedes-Benz bought Detroit Diesel and are now also EDS ready. Most other manufactures including Volvo and Caterpillar all have Electronic Control Modules on their engine since the beginning of the1990’s.
Step Two Discern The Types of Data
There are generally two types of recordable events. The first is a Hard Brake record and the second is a Last Stop record. The Hard Brake record is triggered when they tractor trailer slams on brakes and loses over 7 mph of speed in one second. If a Hard Brake event occurs the recorder records one minute of data before the event and 15 seconds of data after the event. Every time a tractor comes to a stop a A Last Stop record is recorded. However, it is overwritten if the tractor begins to move again.
Some trucks are equipped with satellite data. One of the most popular is Qualcomm. This data can be extremely useful in disputed cases as it provides GPS location, speed, as well as any emails the driver is receiving or sending. Federal Courts have ruled that Qualcomm data is operational data that must be maintained for six months. Failure to request this information may result in the loss of this data permanently.
Finally, some of the newest trucks are equipped with collision avoidance radar systems. One example is the Eaton VORAD system. These systems use radar waves off other vehicle on the road. When the waves bounce back to the system it can warn the driver if they are too close to another vehicle or if they need to take action to avoid a crash. This data can also be used by experienced attorneys to demonstrate where on the road al of the vehicles were prior to the crash.
Call (704) 714-1450 to make an appointment to speak with a tractor trailer Attorney, or stop by the office during regular business hours. We will schedule an appointment that meets your needs.There is no fee for the initial consultation. Whether you call, come in the office or request a home visit you will speak directly with a lawyer who can answer your questions.