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Truck Accidents - Event Data Recorders

Robert Karns

When truck accidents occur the event data recorder (EDR) is one of the most useful tools available to help crash investigators gather valuable information that in many instances could not otherwise be collected. The event data recorder or "black box" is a device that records information from the large truck immediately before and during most serious crashes.

When truck accidents occur with a smaller passenger vehicle causing personal injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle it is very important to gather all the information in order to properly prove liability.

If the large truck is equipped with an event data recorder then it is very important to download the information from the event data recorder to get a full picture of the crash.

Some of the information that the EDR can record can include:

  • Information before the crash or pre-crash data
  • Speed of the vehicle before and during the crash
  • Crash severity (degree of impact)
  • Safety belt status
  • Engine throttle information
  • Accelerator pedal information
  • Driver airbag deployment
  • Brake switch status
  • Brake lamp status
  • Cruise control status
  • Degree of swerving
  • Shift gear information
  • Tire pressure
  • Number of crash events
  • Time between the crashes

All of this information is important to determine liability in addition to all witnesses, police reports and investigative reports. In addition to the EDR another type of electronic device in large trucks are the electronic logging devices (ELDs) that records the hours of service of the truck driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) has rules regarding how long a truck driver can drive, when he must take rests and sleep. Trucks equipped with the electronic logging devices can show if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were violated, if the driver has been on the road too long without enough rest and can help prove that the crash was caused by the truck driver's fatigue.

It is very important when involved in a large tractor trailer collision where injuries occur to the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicle that the large truck crashes into that all of the electronic devices including EDRs and ELDs are examined and all of the pertinent information is reviewed to properly determine liability.

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