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Trucking Accidents and Technology

Casey Woodruff

truckIf large trucks had black boxes—data recording devices much like those on commercial airplanes—would fewer trucking accidents happen? Currently, it’s not always possible to pinpoint the cause of a truck collision. In some cases, officials can say with certainty that a mechanical error or an overloaded cargo area resulted in severe injuries. In other situations, signs can suggest that drowsy driving or aggressive driving caused a crash. But if we don’t always know the facts surrounding deadly truck accidents, how can we ensure that we’re taking all of the necessary steps to prevent these serious collisions?

According to a recent article in Government Technology, the National Transportation Safety Board hopes to require the installation of data recorders on commercial buses and trucks in order to help determine the causes of fatal accidents.

Data Recorders Are Vital Tools for Accident Prevention

The NTSB emphasized the need for data recorders, or black boxes, after it was unable to determine the cause of a deadly crash in which a tractor-trailer crashed into a school bus, killing 10 people. While the accident that sparked the NTSB’s interest in black boxes for big rigs occurred outside of the Chicago area, it’s important to remember that northern Illinois is a major thoroughfare for truckers, given that cross-country transporters along I-80 and I-90 must pass through or around the city. As such, residents of Champaign, Aurora, Naperville, and surrounding areas frequently find themselves on the highways with big rigs.

When a collision with a large truck does occur, in the Chicago area and across the country, black boxes can be “vital tools” for investigators, as they allow the NTSB to “make recommendations to prevent future accidents,” according to NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.

The NTSB has been making large truck safety recommendations for years, and it has emphasized the utility of data recorders in determining the causes of deadly accidents. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to require that black boxes be installed by manufacturers in 18-wheelers. As Hart explained, it’s essential for federal regulators to focus on these devices. If investigators had access to the data that would be contained in a truck’s black box, those investigators could determine with specificity the cause of an accident, which can enable the NTSB to “make recommendations to prevent it from happening again.”

American Trucking Associations Supports Use of Black Boxes

It’s not only the NTSB that’s pushing for the use of event data recorders in large trucks.  A spokesperson for the American Trucking Associations emphasized that “the industry trade group supports the use of many technologies, including event data recorders, that can positively impact safety.” While the American Trucking Associations has expressed concerns about the privacy of the data contained in such devices—access should be tightly controlled, the industry trade group has underscored—it nonetheless believes that event data recorders could reduce the number of fatal trucking accidents on our highways.

In particular, investigators cannot always determine the cause of cross-median crashes. Event data recorders could be particularly helpful in such circumstances, especially after other likely causes have been ruled out.

Contact a Champaign Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a trucking accident, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Contact an aggressive Champaign trucking accident attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to learn more about our services.

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