What Are Semi-Truck Black Boxes?

If you get into an accident with a semi-truck, the preservation and collection of evidence will be two key tasks for your personal injury or wrongful death claim. Any evidence available of the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence could help you prove your case and receive a fair financial award for your damages. One of the most important pieces of evidence, if available, is the truck’s black box.



What Is a Black Box?

A black box is an important safety tool the aviation industry has long-used to track data during flights. Investigators can use information recovered from a black box after a plane crash to determine why the motor vehicle accident might have happened. Traditionally, black boxes were flight recorders – heavily protected recording devices with disks for recording flight data. Black boxes on planes record all relevant flight information, including flight statistics and aircraft diagnostics, as well as conversations on the radio and between pilots.

Today, black boxes have expanded outside the aviation industry and into commercial trucking. Although not every commercial truck has a black box (or event data recorder, as they are called in trucking), the majority do to help trucking companies, insurers, investigators and the government keep track of what causes collisions. Black boxes allow federal regulators to improve the safety of the trucking industry. They also allow crash victims to potentially determine the causes of their accidents and prove fault.

Event data recorders may not be the only source of retrievable crash data onboard a commercial truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also requires electronic logging devices, or ELDs, on every commercial truck and bus. ELDs mainly keep track of the number of hours a driver has been on the road. The law requires every truck driver to enter his or her hours of operation into an ELD after each shift. ELDs could help prove crash causes related to the trucker, such as broken hours of service rules or drowsy driving.

What Are Semi-Truck Black Boxes?

How to Preserve Black Box Information

A truck’s black box silently records an enormous amount of data while the truck carries out its journey. It stores and saves this data either within the box or by sending it to a data center. Recovering the black box after a truck accident could lead to key evidence proving the fault of the truck driver or company for the collision. The black box on a semi-truck could contain valuable information about how the crash happened to use during your personal injury lawsuit.

  • The exact coordinates of the accident
  • The speed of the truck at the time of the collision
  • The average speed of the truck
  • Whether the driver was using cruise control
  • The truck’s mechanical status
  • The positions of the tires and steering wheel
  • If the truck driver applied the brakes
  • Hard braking or abrupt stops
  • If the trucker was wearing a seat belt
  • Airbag deployment

The best way to access a truck’s black box after an accident in California is by hiring an attorney. A Sacramento truck accident lawyer can immediately make phone calls and file paperwork to require the trucking company to preserve a truck’s black box information. An Order to Preserve is a legal document requiring the recipient to preserve something that could serve as evidence during a lawsuit. A lawyer can access all the information a black box collected and sift through it for potential evidence to prove negligence or fault for your claim.

Using Black Box Information for an Injury Claim

If the truck driver was speeding, driving erratically or using improper braking techniques at the time of your accident, the truck’s black box may have proof. The event data recorder and/or electronic logging device from a truck could contain information you need to succeed with a claim. Contact a Sacramento personal injury attorney right away to help you preserve, access and use black box information for your truck accident case in California.