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

Accidents involving large commercial trucks can be devastating for those involved. This is particularly true for those riding inside traditional passenger vehicles that may be involved in the accident. When an accident involving a commercial truck does occur, it is crucial for victims to work with a skilled truck accident attorney in Nashville who can help them uncover the evidence needed to prove liability so they can obtain any compensation they are entitled to.

One of the main pieces of evidence that an attorney will look to obtain is the commercial truck’s “black box.” Here, we want to discuss what the black box is, what data it contains, and why it is important to obtain this data before the black box is destroyed.

What is the truck’s black box?

The black box for a commercial truck is known as the electronic control module (ECM) or the event data recorder (EDR). You have likely heard the term “black box” before, particularly when you listen to people discussing airplane crashes. Just about every semi-truck manufactured since the 1990s has a black box integrated into the engine.

The black box for a commercial truck will store various information about the physical properties of a truck that is involved in an “incident,” which can be defined as a crash or a near-crash.

What information is in the black box?

The black box toy commercial truck can provide a wealth of information related to the truck, the overall trip, and what was happening with the vehicle right before an event occurred. The data recorded by the black box will vary depending on the engine manufacturer but will typically include the following:

  • The speed of the truck right before a crash occurred
  • Whether there was any sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Whether the brakes were applied and when they were applied
  • Whether cruise control was enabled
  • The daily, weekly, or monthly truck activity
  • How frequently the truck operated above a predetermined speed
  • Whether the truck driver was wearing a seat belt
  • Whether the airbags were deployed
  • Tire pressure
  • The number of hard stops
  • The RPM between stops
  • The number of times the truck has been involved in a crash
  • GPS location data

However, the black box will not be the only data that can be useful in the aftermath of a truck crash. Additionally, injury victims and their attorneys will want to obtain data from the driver’s electronic logging device that keeps track of their hours of service. The plaintiff will also want evidence of any communication between the trucker and the truck company, including dispatch recordings, emails, text messages, and more.

How to prevent the evidence from being destroyed

There are already laws in place that should, in theory, prevent those involved in a truck crash from destroying, discarding, or altering any evidence that could be used in a civil lawsuit. However, when you work with a skilled truck accident lawyer, your attorney will likely want to send a spoliation letter to the other parties involved to remind them that they are not to destroy any evidence in the case.