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What Is a Semi-Truck’s Black Box and What’s In It? 

You probably already know that black box data recording devices are installed on all major aircraft in use today. However, you may not be aware that semi-trucks are also equipped with black box devices. These devices record vital data and may be crucial sources of information following a collision with a semi-truck. What is a black box, and what crucial information does it contain? The legal team at The Johnson Injury Firm wants to give you insight into how these devices may help you if you are ever injured in a crash with a semi-truck that wasn’t your fault.

What Is a Semi-Truck’s Black Box?

A semi-truck’s black box is an electronic data recorder. These devices are also called electronic control modules, ECMs, or event data recorders, also known as EDRs. The black box device itself is a computerized system installed in the engine of the truck. These devices monitor driver safety and record vital data about the physical properties of the vehicle. Some black box devices continually record information about the status of a vehicle, while other models only record data when a crash is detected. An electronic logging device will be hooked up to an ECM or EDR and is now standard on most commercial semi-trucks.

What Data Is Contained in a Black Box Recorder?

Before the widespread use of black box-style recording devices, truckers would log their miles and hours on the road in travel logs. These physical logbooks were used to keep track of how long a driver was on the road, how many miles they traveled, and how long they rested before getting back onto the road. Today, technology has made it easier to keep track of vital data. Although different black-box models will record different types of data, most models will capture a range of information about the physical properties of the truck and its hours in operation. Again, some devices will continuously record data, while others will only begin recording information when a potential crash is detected. In general, a black box device can record and store information about the following:

  • Sudden changes in acceleration or deceleration
  • Speed of the truck before a crash
  • The number of hard stops the truck makes
  • RPMs between stops
  • Whether the truck’s brakes were applied before a crash
  • When the truck’s brakes were applied
  • Whether a truck was on cruise control before an accident
  • If the semi-truck was operating at, above, or below the speed limit
  • Tire pressure
  • GPS location

Many black box devices can also track the truck’s usage, meaning when and how a semi-truck has been in operation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel. Examining black box data can help shed light on whether a truck driver was potentially fatigued at the time of a crash or if they were operating their vehicle beyond the time periods allowed by federal government regulations.

How Can You Access Black Box Data?

The problem with black box data is that it is trucking company property. In the event of an accident, the trucking company has access to the data contained on the device. Accident victims do not. What’s more, some black box devices only store data for a certain amount of time before it is deleted or recorded over. If you are injured in an accident with a semi-truck driver, you should consider contacting a Richmond truck accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can request that all information related to the accident be preserved, including black box data. Your attorney can also help you gain access to the information on the device before it can be lost or destroyed, which may help strengthen your accident claim.

Reach Out to the Legal Team at The Johnson Injury Firm

Is a negligent semi-truck driver responsible for your injuries? Contact the Richmond truck accident team at The Johnson Injury Firm. Our mission is the help you seek the compensation you deserve and hold the truck driver and trucking company accountable for their actions. Contact our office online or call us today at (804) 262-9000 to set up a confidential legal consultation with one of our skilled associates.

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