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What is a Black Box and How Does It Relate to Truck Accidents?

Black BoxIf you are in an accident with a commercial truck, the black box can be instrumental in proving the driver’s liability. Also called Electronic Control Modules (ECM), black boxes are a relatively new requirement for truck drivers. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Black Box in a Commercial Truck?

In a commercial truck, a black box plays roughly the same role it plays in a commercial airliner. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial motor vehicles made after 2000 to have black boxes. These boxes or EMCs must engage with the vehicle’s motor and automatically collect data about how the truck is being used.

What Does a Black Box Do?

In commercial trucks, a black box tracks the overall average speed of the truck. It also notes the highest speed recorded during the collection period as well as the amount of time the truck was driven over 65 miles per hour. On top of that, these technological tools track average RPMs, seat belt usage, airbag performance, and idling time.

Why Are Black Boxes Important in Truck Accident Cases?

In the past, commercial trucking companies often used black boxes to back up insurance claims. Many insurance companies were denying warranty claims because they claimed that certain actions by the drivers negated the terms of the warranties. In these situations, the trucking companies used the information in the black boxes to show that there were no issues with the operators.

Now, however, black boxes have emerged as a critical tool in proving liability in truck accident lawsuits. Black boxes have information on how often and how fast the truck was used—this information can be compared with the notes in the driver’s logbook to ensure the driver was following the necessary laws and regulations. The black box can also indicate if the driver was exceeding the speed limit or being unsafe in other ways.

How Can Truck Accident Victims Secure the Information from the Black Box?

If you’ve been in a truck accident and you want information from the black box, you need to act quickly and contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The laws only require trucking companies to keep information such as driver’s logs for a certain amount of time. If that time period elapses, you may not be able to get the information you need.

Generally, black boxes only store information for 30 to 60 days, and on top of that, the laws in some states dictate that the information on the black box belongs to the trucking company. If the company’s reps are trying to cover up an accident, they may delete the information on the black box. However, if you contact an attorney, they can issue a stay or restraining order. This essentially identifies the black box as a critical piece of evidence in your case and prohibits the trucking company from erasing any details.

If you are the victim of a truck accident, let us help. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have significant experience with a wide variety personal injury cases and truck accidents in particular. Contact us today at (855) 693-9084 to talk about your case.

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