What is a Truck’s Black Box?

truck accidents | May 23, 2022

If you or somebody you love has been injured in an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of a commercial truck driver or trucking company, it is likely that you will be able to recover compensation for your losses. However, a successful claim revolves around gathering evidence, including the truck’s black box data. Here, we want to discuss what a commercial truck black box is as well as the importance of working with a trucking accident attorney to gather the evidence needed to win your claim.

What is a Truck's Black Box?

Understanding the Black Box

Just about every modern vehicle on the roadway has some sort of recording device inside. No, this is not some sort of spy device, but it does provide various types of information about the diagnostics of a vehicle. These devices do not record for long periods of time. Often, these black boxes only store data for a few seconds at a time, typically taking snapshots of what is going on right before an incident occurs. After a vehicle senses that an accident occurs, it will save the data so it can be retrieved later period.

Larger commercial trucks have these recording devices, but they are more extensive and are referred to as the electronic control module (ECM) or the electronic data recorder (EDR). Additionally, every truck driver must also have an electronic logging device (ELD) installed in their vehicle that tracks how many hours they operate to ensure they abide by federal regulations each day and each workweek.

What is Stored on the Black Box?

The electronic control module in a commercial truck will store a wide range of information pertaining to the vehicle. Typically, this revolves around various vehicle diagnostics, the most recent trips the truck has taken, and exactly what is going on with the vehicle right before an incident or a near accident occurs.

Data recorded in the electronic control module it will depend based on the specific manufacturer and requirements of the trucking carrier. However, most commonly, we find that an ECM will record the following types of information:

  • The speed of the truck right before a crash or near-crash occurs
  • Whether or not the vehicle traveled above a predetermined speed
  • Whether or not the airbag was deployed
  • Tire pressure
  • GPS location
  • Daily and weekly activity reports
  • Whether or not there was any sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Whether the brakes were applied and how quickly they were applied before the incident
  • Whether or not cruise control was engaged in the vehicle
  • Whether the driver was wearing a seat belt
  • Occasionally, the electronic control module will contain communication between the truck driver and the company or dispatcher. Sometimes, truck carriers will also have cameras installed inside and outside the vehicle, though these cameras will usually have separate storage devices.

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident involving a large commercial truck in California, reach out to a Sacramento personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It is crucial for a lawyer to get involved and gather as much evidence as they can, including electronic control module data. Using this information, as well as other evidence gathered, an attorney will work diligently to recover complete compensation for your medical bills, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering losses.