Are commercial trucks required to have black boxes? The answer to this depends on how we define black boxes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truckers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their service hours and other information. Some consider these devices a kind of black box.
However, the FMCSA offers several exemptions and exceptions to the ELD rule. Additionally, some people use the term black box to refer to event data recorders (EDRs), which the FMCSA does not require.
You can review these regulations and the importance of ELD and EDR records to truck accident cases with our team at Berry Law. Get additional information by calling or filling out our online contact form.
Who Requires Commercial Trucks to Have ELDs?
The government requires many commercial drivers to follow the ELD rule as handled by the FMCSA. According to the ELD rule, drivers must use an ELD if they have requirements to track:
- Records of duty status (RODS)
- Hours of service (HOS)
According to the FMCSA, truck drivers and individuals who operate commercial buses may have to use ELDs. The regulation can also apply to drivers from Canada and Mexico.
The FMCSA uses information found in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to handle regulations for ELDs.
Are There Exceptions to the ELD Rule for Commercial Truckers?
Yes, exceptions exist for the black box regulations used by the FMCSA. Under the ELD rule, drivers may not have to use an ELD if they:
- Have an exception for making short-haul trips
- Use paper RODS for no more than eight days every 30 days
- Perform some drive-away-tow-away operations
- Operate a vehicle made before 2000
So, commercial trucks are only sometimes required to have ELDs. However, most trucks on the road must use some kind of ELD.
Are ELDs for Commercial Trucks All the Same?
The FMCSA requires many commercial trucks to have ELDs. While older ELDs were often electronic equipment permanently attached to a truck, modern technological advances provide truckers with more options to record their information.
The ELD rule has specific technical requirements. Trucks can use wireless devices or smartphones and more traditional options if devices meet these requirements.
Truckers must mount a portable ELD in a visible location while operating their vehicle. However, they do not have to leave the ELD in their truck after driving.
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Do Truckers Have to Use Registered ELDs?
According to FMCSA regulations, motor carriers must ensure that commercial truck drivers have appropriately registered ELDs for their vehicles. In some cases, the FMCSA revokes the usage of specific ELDs.
Do Commercial Truckers Have to Carry Anything Besides an ELD?
In addition to having an ELD, a commercial truck driver may have to carry supporting documents tied to their ELD. Drivers carry this information packet that details how to operate their ELD and instructions for recordkeeping procedures.
What does an ELD in a Commercial Truck Record?
Commercial trucks must have ELDs to record information about the trucker’s actions while behind the wheel. Generally, the technology logs how long the operator drives the truck, for example.
The ELD can track the following:
- How much the engine runs
- When the vehicle is moving
- How many miles the trucker drives
- The duration of engine usage
Trucking companies can use this information. In some cases, law enforcement may also access ELD information to assess a trucker’s hours or service. Depending on the kind of ELD in the truck, police may view a display screen or a printout.
Do Trucks Have to Use Event Data Recorders (EDRs)?
ELDs do not align neatly with more traditional ideas about black boxes. Individuals often use the term “black box” to refer to an Event Data Recorder (EDR) instead. EDRs can record more information than ELDs.
These black boxes may contain details about:
- The truck’s speed at the time of an accident
- The truck driver’s seatbelt usage
- If the trucker was using cruise control at the time of the wreck
- The usage of the truck’s braking system
- Whether the truck’s airbag deployed
- The mechanical status of the truck
Generally, EDRs can convey information about the minutes or seconds before a truck accident. However, the FMCSA does not require that trucking companies install EDRs in their vehicles.
Many trucking companies choose to use EDRs but do not have the same requirements as we see for ELDs.
Can Lawyers Use ELDs and EDRs After a Collision?
The information in an ELD or EDR black box could prove valuable after a truck accident. In some cases, lawyers can use the data found on these electronic devices to hold a trucker accountable if their reckless actions cause a collision.
For example, an ELD can show if the trucker disobeyed regulations regarding how many hours the trucker drove. Drivers who exceed safe driving time can become fatigued, making them more likely to cause an accident.
However, trucking companies may try to refuse other drivers access to the information found on an ELD or EDR after a collision. In this situation, a truck accident lawyer may file a subpoena to see the data while building a personal injury claim.
Speak to Us About Black Boxes in Commercial Trucks
Are commercial trucks required to have black boxes? The answer depends on what you mean by a black box. Most commercial vehicles must have an ELD that records some information about the truck’s usage. However, trucking companies may not have to use a more detailed EDR.
You can learn more about both of these electronic devices and how they may impact your truck accident claim with our team at Berry Law. Just call or complete our online contact form to get started.