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News Stories

What is the Truck’s Black Box and How Can it Be Used as Evidence?

Accidents involving large commercial trucks must be thoroughly investigated. If a crash was caused by the careless or negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company, the victims involved will likely be entitled to compensation for their losses. However, it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible in order to prove what happened. One valuable piece of evidence will include the truck’s “black box.” Here, we want to discuss what the “black box” actually is. What does this piece of technology do, and how can it help in the aftermath of a truck accident?

What is a Truck’s Black Box?

Most people have heard the term “black box” before when it comes to accidents, but most likely, they’ve heard it revolving around plane accidents. However, larger commercial trucks also have their own types of black boxes, but these are typically referred to as electronic control modules (ECM) or the event data recorder (EDR). In some cases, a person may refer to the driver’s electronic logging device (ELD) as a black box, but that is not officially part of the data recording system of the actual truck.

The ECM and the EDR will record various types of information about a large truck’s operations, particularly leading up to the moments before some type of collision or near-crash event.

What Information is Stored on the Black Box?

The black boxes of larger commercial trucks will typically contain a significant amount of information related to the vehicle, the overall trip, and what was happening with the vehicle right before some type of incident occurred. The data recorded by the ECM will vary depending on the truck or device manufacturer’s specifications but will typically include a combination of the following types of information:

  • The speed of a truck right before an incident occurred
  • Information about sudden deceleration or acceleration
  • Information about whether cruise control was used
  • Information about the application of brakes 
  • GPS location data
  • Whether or not airbags were deployed
  • The average speed of a vehicle over longer time periods
  • Tire pressure
  • Brake line pressure
  • The number of hard stops
  • The revolutions per minute (RPM) of the vehicle between stops
  • Daily, weekly, or monthly truck activity
  • Truck driver seat belt usage
  • …and more

Data gathered from the truck’s black box will be used by various investigators looking into the incident. This can include police officers, internal truck company investigators, and attorneys for any injury victims. In addition to the black box, there will be other types of evidence that have to be examined in order to determine liability for a crash. The ECM or EDR will only be part of the overall evidence gathered and turned over to insurance carriers or used during a personal injury trial.

Working to Preserve This Evidence

It is important to preserve all evidence in the aftermath of a truck accident in California. However, as soon as the crash occurs, evidence begins to disappear. It is very important for any injury or property damage victims in these cases to work with an attorney who can send a letter of spoliation to all parties involved to remind them of their responsibility to preserve evidence. A Riverside truck accident attorney will be able to handle all communication with other parties, including the truck company, aggressive insurance carriers, and any legal teams involved.