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What is a Truck’s “Black Box” and How is it Used After an Accident?

Posted on December 15, 2023

In the aftermath of a truck accident, investigators often turn to a critical piece of technology called the “black box” installed in trucks. While commonly associated with airplanes, trucks are equipped with their own version of this data recorder, officially known as an Event Data Recorder (EDR). This electronic device holds key information that can significantly impact accident liability and legal proceedings.

What Data Does a Black Box Contain?

Black boxes typically record 30 days of data at a time before writing over the stored information. They typically will contain the following types of information:

  • The truck’s average speed
  • How frequently the truck was driven above a speed limit that is predetermined on the vehicle
  • The highest rate of speed during the trip
  • Daily or monthly engine activity that shows if the truck driver’s hours exceeded federal regulations
  • Whether the clutch was engaged
  • Whether there was a sudden deceleration
  • Brake switch status (if and when the truck driver applied any brakes)
  • Load factor
  • Following distance
  • Force of impact
  • Airbag deployment times
  • If a seatbelt was engaged
  • Maintenance issues
  • Current throttle position (%)
  • Steering angles
  • The tilt of the vehicle
  • Engine oil pressure
  • Tire pressure and additional information.

Once an accident occurs, the recorded data is often transmitted to the trucking company or a hired third-party company.

How Black Box Data Can Be Used as Evidence

Accident investigators use data from the black box to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to and during the accident. This aids in understanding the dynamics of the collision, including the actions of the truck driver and other contributing factors.

Determining Fault

The recorded information is crucial in determining fault. It can reveal whether the truck driver was speeding, if brakes were applied in a timely manner, whether there was a mechanical or part failure, and other factors that may contribute to or mitigate liability.

Verifying Driver Statements

The data can be compared with statements from the truck driver and other witnesses. This verification process adds an objective layer to the investigation, ensuring accuracy in the reconstruction of events.

Evidence in Legal Proceedings

The information stored is admissible as evidence in legal proceedings. Attorneys use this data to support their arguments, whether they are representing the injured party, truck driver, or other involved parties.

How to Preserve Black Box Evidence

Your attorney must act quickly by sending a spoliation letter to the trucking company to ensure the black box evidence is preserved. Sending a spoliation letter warns a trucking company and their insurer to hold onto any evidence related to a crash. Once they receive the letter, they have a legal duty to ensure that relevant evidence is not deleted, thrown out, discarded, or missing. If black box data disappears or gets destroyed after a letter has been sent, it can be significant evidence of fault, strengthening your case.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, it is imperative to consult a trusted Waco truck accident lawyer quickly. They will immediately begin investigating and preserving evidence to build your case and guide you through the claims process. Call (713) 225-0500 or message us online to arrange a free consultation today.