In 2014, a commercial tractor-trailer crossed a median in California, causing a crash that killed the driver, a bus driver and eight bus occupants, and injured 37 other bus passengers and two people in a car. The National Transportation Safety Board investigators ruled out alcohol use, mechanical failure, driver fatigue, and weather as potential causes, but they could not determine why the crash occurred.

After the crash, NTSB’s chairman Christopher Hart said:

“With access to event data recorders, we might have been able to determine why the truck crossed the median, which could have enabled us to make recommendations to prevent it from happening again.”

Event data recorders – often referred to as “black boxes” – can track a wide range of information about what happened in a vehicle immediately preceding and during a crash. Similar devices are required for high-speed trains, passenger ships, and commercial airplanes, yet the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has yet to issue rules that make EDRs mandatory in passenger vehicles and heavy trucks. The NHTSA did issue a rule that standardizes how EDR data is recorded and reported, but the rule doesn’t apply to trucks weighing more than 8,500 pounds.

Most modern cars and an increasing number of commercial trucks are equipped with EDRs and similar systems that record factors such as speed and mechanical failure before a crash. That information is helpful for investigators, especially when crash victims’ injuries are so incapacitating that they are unable to tell investigators what happened.

As useful as EDRs may be, they may leave questions unanswered, such as which driver is most at fault for a crash. But an experienced personal injury attorney can uncover all the factors in a car crash in order to secure the best possible outcome for injured clients.

If a traffic accident has injured you or someone in your family, you may be entitled to compensation. The Louthian Law Firm has represented injury victims throughout South Carolina since 1959, with the kind of personal attention that only a small firm can offer. Find out if you have a case. Call us today for your free consultation: 888-440-3211.

About EDR Data

EDRs manufactured in 2013 or after are required by NHTSA rule to monitor specific factors. Older EDR models may monitor only basic information, such as vehicle speed, and if a device does not measure the speed before a crash or speed change during impact, it is not considered an EDR. Those non-EDR devices include systems found in heavy trucks that are meant to evaluate engine problems or monitor airbag deployment.

EDRs have the ability to measure:

  • Changes in speed
  • Whether brakes were applied
  • To what extent the accelerator was engaged
  • Whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt
  • The number of crash impacts.
Advanced EDRs can provide even more information, such as:

  • Sideways acceleration
  • Driver steering behavior
  • Antilock brake activity
  • Engagement of electronic stability control.

Trucking Standards

While trucking companies are not required to install EDRs in vehicles, many fleet owners are choosing to do so anyway, as data recorded by such devices can help detect unsafe driving behavior and mechanical problems, as well as provide a possible means of defense in litigation.

Some studies suggest that commercial fleets using EDRs have reduced crashes by as much as 30 percent. Based on that information and other evidence that EDRs reduce trucking crashes, the NHTSA could develop rules requiring trucks to use such devices.

As the NTSB chairman said of the fatal truck crash in California, understanding the cause of crashes is important in preventing them from happening again. EDRs could provide valuable insight about the most common reasons for truck crashes, but until the NHTSA requires EDRs to be installed in trucks, the availability of EDR data will depend largely on whether fleet owners are willing to adopt the technology.

The Impact of Truck Crashes

Heavy-duty trucks – based on their size and weight – aren’t involved in many fender-benders. When they crash, the results are usually quite serious, especially for occupants of any small passenger cars that come into contact with trucks.

Professional trucking companies know the impact of such crashes, and that’s why they carry hefty insurance policies. A major insurance settlement may be the only recourse for families whose loved ones have been injured in a trucking crash.

The Louthian Law Firm takes personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t charge clients up-front – our fee comes out of any settlement you may receive. So if you’ve been injured in a crash with a heavy-duty truck, don’t delay asking for help. Schedule your no-obligation consultation today by filling out our online form or calling us at (803) 454-1200.