Why Is the Black Box Important in Truck Accidents?

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Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers

November 01, 2022

The roads and highways of Indiana are full of large commercial trucks that transport goods across the state and country. The value of any given truck’s cargo is incredibly high, meaning that the trucking companies have a vested interest in ensuring that the goods are kept as safe as possible. One common means of doing this is to equip the truck with a “black box” that tracks and stores data. The information in these black boxes can be vital for anyone injured in a truck accident.

What Is a Black Box?

18 wheeler driving on highwayThe term “black box” is a generic way of describing parts of a computerized system that monitor a truck’s status and the actions of its driver. While some black boxes begin recording only when the system detects a collision, others capture information continuously. In either case, the data contained within the black box can offer useful information that can help prove who was at fault for an accident. For this reason, trucking companies often attempt to withhold black box data if they suspect it will imply that they or their driver might be liable for an accident.

What Are the Different Types of Black Boxes?

There are several trucking devices within the category of “black boxes.” Some of the most common varieties are:

  • Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) – An ECM is a computerized system responsible for operating many modern truck engines. The system comprises multiple computers and sensors that run an engine and monitor the engine’s and vehicle’s performance. The functions that an ECM might control include transmission, fuel injection timing, anti-lock brake systems, and traction control. The module generates fault codes enabling a mechanic to diagnose and repair problems. ECMs also record information like engine speed, temperature, emissions, battery information, and tire pressure.
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) – An ELD is a system that monitors the service hours of the truck driver. In the past, the primary source of this information was the handwritten logs of the drivers themselves. Now, ELDs can record data about engine function, vehicle movement, and distance traveled to determine the amount of time a driver has worked. This information can help your attorney and the insurance company determine whether the trucker complied with the Hours of Service requirements set out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Event Data Recorders (EDRs) – An EDR is what most people probably think of when they imagine a vehicle’s “black box.” This electronic system monitors and records vehicle data beginning in the moments that lead up to an incident. Activation of these recorders tends to occur during sudden deceleration or braking events, seatbelt tensioner activation, or airbag deployment. These events trigger the EDR to capture recordings of the truck’s speed, brake application, the status of the cruise control function, clutch engagement, and wheel turning.

How Are Black Boxes Useful for People Who Have Been in a Truck Accident?

driver log and "black box"A large commercial vehicle’s black box is vital for those injured in a truck accident. A black box’s data often preserves the clearest evidence of any wrongdoing on the trucker’s part or any malfunction that the truck itself might have had. This information can demonstrate:

  • Whether the driver failed to brake
  • If the driver was exceeding the speed limit
  • The exact time of the collision
  • What the truck and the driver did after the accident occurred

While trucking companies and their insurance providers might attempt to argue that the crash was your fault, the black box carries objective information about the accident. This evidence makes your claim harder to refute if it demonstrates that the trucker or the company was in the wrong.

For this reason, trucking companies may attempt to erase the data within the black box to avoid accepting liability. However, an experienced and skilled truck accident attorney will know what steps to take to preserve this data.

Call an Experienced Indiana Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you have been involved in a truck accident in Indiana, you must consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. You need to obtain legal representation before the trucking company can erase the black box data. The Valparaiso truck accident lawyers of Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers are ready to use our experience and skill for you. Our team will do what is necessary to make the company turn over the black box information so that we can work toward securing the compensation you deserve. Call us now at (219) 286-7361 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our results speak for themselves.


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