Driving a semitrailer truck in Texas is a big responsibility. Trucks can be very heavy. Some weigh as much as 40 tons. When these trucks get into a collision with smaller vehicles, serious injuries and enormous property damage can result. This is why truck drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license and why they and their trucking companies may incur major liability for an 18-wheeler accident.
Truck accident victims may wonder if there is a way to capture information about the operation of the truck at the time of an accident. There may be.
Since the 1990s, many trucks made in the United States have Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) installed. These ECMs record a variety of data about the truck’s operation. Information recorded may include highest speed, average speed, total time driven, amount of time driving over 65 mph, average engine revolutions per minute, idling time, seat belt usage and air bag performance.
ECMs were originally installed in trucks by truck manufacturers who wanted to know if the trucks had been operated in a manner that would invalidate their warranties. Many other stakeholders — including injured plaintiffs — are able to access this information to collect potential evidence to use in a negligence claim. Information in an ECM may indicate a possible violation of hours of service rules or other things helpful to an injured victim’s case.
In order to be useful, ECM information may have to be collected before the information is deleted or recorded over. It may also be necessary to collect evidence about who drove the truck and had custody over it during key time periods. A personal injury attorney can be helpful to preserve this evidence for use in a possible negligence claim.