Black Box Technology Improves in Automobiles and Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a division of the United States Department of Transportation, has requested that “black boxes,” electronic data recorders or electronic on-board recording devices found in trucks and cars, should have the capacity to monitor a truck driver’s hours behind the wheel.

The purpose of the black box device is to record data in case of a crash. The data found on the black box allows experts to review the events leading up to a crash and use that data in evaluating future safety issues.

Today cars have these “black boxes” to record events leading up to an automobile accident. The boxes record vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration rates and vehicle angles before and during the crash. They also detect whether seatbelts were used.

The FMCSA proposal would require recorders as a way to ensure that truckers do not exceed the federal hours-of-service rules.

A truck driver who’s carrying a cargo cannot drive more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty. A driver cannot operate a commercial vehicle for any period after having been on duty for 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty. A driver taking passengers cannot drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off-duty or operate a commercial vehicle for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off-duty.

Most commercial truckers are required to keep their hours on a paper log book. These log books are usually found in the door or glove compartment of the trucker’s tractor. But the paper logs can be altered. There is very little oversight to ensure that the logs are accurate. In truck accidents, the paper logs are crucial in determining if the truck driver has violated federal law as to hours driving. Some drivers oppose the proposal because they believe that the trucking companies would alter the recorders to force drivers to work longer hours.

In commercial trucks, the black box is a system that’s used to record speed, braking, use of the clutch and use of cruise control. That information is important to reconstruct accidents.

As to the proposal to mandate the black boxes to record the time a driver has driven, the purpose is to reduce truck accidents because of driver fatigue. It has been found that driver fatigue has been the No. 1 cause of truck accidents.

Some private trucking companies have adopted proposals voluntarily, finding that internal studies revealed a reduction in driver fatigue accidents. Because black boxes are present in most commercial trucks, it is imperative that the black box be recovered should one be involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler. The black box is very important in determining the cause and effect of truck crashes.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling trucking accidents, automobile crashes and personal injury matters for individuals and families for more than 36 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Hillside, Elmhurst, Riverside, Mount Prospect, Clarendon Hills, Chicago (Albany Park), Northlake and Bensenville, Ill.

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Reduces Trucker’s Weekly Hours