How Does the Black Box Help in a Truck Accident Investigation?

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Everyone has heard of the black box in airline accidents. The black box is a device that holds important records of the details of the vehicle before, during, and after an incident. You may not know that big rigs also have black boxes. Black boxes are virtually indestructible, so they are most often intact and available following a crash. If you are the victim of a truck accident, you may need help from an experienced truck accident lawyer to gather important documentation from the crash, including information from the black box.

How Does the Black Box Work?

The black box is also known as the Electronic Control Module (ECM). A black box is not an audio recorder. What it does is collect and record vital details about the truck on an ongoing basis. The device is located inside the truck and is generally connected to the trucking company’s electronic network. It is important to know that the black box generally records on a continuous loop. This means that it records the data after a period of time. Sometimes that time is as short as 10 minutes.

It is essential to obtain data from the black box as quickly as possible following an accident. Because the truck and the black box belongs to the trucking company, you need to request that they preserve the information. Your attorney might need to file a legal request to preserve and obtain this data.

What Information Does the Black Box Record?

The black box stores a wealth of information that it gathers from the mechanics of the truck. Some of the data it gathers includes:

  • Speed of the vehicle
  • Braking
  • Throttle position
  • Tire air pressure
  • Average driving speed
  • Length of trip
  • Exhaust, cylinder and inlet temperatures
  • High speed on the trip
  • Engine oil pressure

This is data that is essential in determining the cause and contributing factors in a truck accident. First, you must obtain the data from the black box and then you need to analyze the information. The information you obtain is not helpful until you have an expert review the details.

In addition to the black box, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial trucks to utilize electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) to record the driving log. Previously, drivers kept logs manually, which could be easily manipulated. These logs indicate how long the driver was behind the wheel, and other important details.

Evaluating Data from the Black Box

The data that you get from the ECM is not very helpful on its own. Your Houston truck accident attorney has a team of experts available to review and analyze the data from the black box. They can find out things such as how fast the truck was going at the time of impact, whether the truck driver applied the brakes and if so, how soon, whether the truck had any mechanical problems, and much more. The experts can determine whether the driver may have been fatigued and many other details that could prove essential in proving your case.

If you were hurt in a truck accident, you do not need to go it alone. Get the legal help you need from our team with proven results. 

Contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss how the black box data may help your case.


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