What Does a Truck’s Black Box Record in an Accident?

Get a Free Case Evaluation
100% Secure & Confidential
5.0 Google Rated
Brain Injury Settlement
Bad Faith Insurance Settlement
Wrongful Death Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement
Premise Liability Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement
Trucking Accident Settlement
Nursing Home Negligence Settlement
Product Liability Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement
Tucking Accident Settlement
Civil Rights Jail Misconduct Settlement
Trucking Accident Settlement
Medical Malpractice Settlement

A truck’s black box record can provide valuable information in the event of an accident. Learn what information may be available and how you can secure the evidence to help your case with the help of a truck accident lawyer.

What Information Is Recorded in a Truck Black Box?

A truck black box may record:

  • Vehicle speed and speed changes
  • Evasive maneuvers like steering wheel movement
  • Airbag deployment
  • Seatbelt use
  • Throttle position
  • Ignition cycle
  • Brake engagement
  • Events, times between events

What a black box records may vary. Vehicles equipped with an event data recorder (EDR) must meet minimum requirements.

Truck Black Box Recordings

A truck black box may be referred to as a:

  • Black box
  • Event data recorder (EDR)
  • Electronic control module (ECM)
  • Electronic logging device (ELD)
  • Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD)
  • Advanced Crash Safety Module (ACSM)

These devices are not all the same. The different names carry significance for how they work and what information they record. Some of them have regulations that apply to the specific device. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) phased out AOBRDs in 2019 in favor of ELDs (See RIN 2126-AB20).

What is a black box?

A black box is an electronic system that records information about a vehicle and its operation. The term black box is misleading – they can be any color. The term applies to vehicle hardware or software that tracks events and information, especially information that may be relevant to a motor vehicle collision.

What does a black box do?

A black box records data that may be relevant to determining how a crash occurred. In addition, some recorders used in commercial trucking record driver hours of service.

A truck black box may explain:

  • What happened to cause a crash — possibly revealing who is at fault
  • The physics and mechanics of the crash — speeds and locations of impact
  • Harm from the crash — showing how the accident produced injuries and property damage

For example, when a rear-end truck accident occurs, the event data recorder may reveal that the truck driver only started to brake a quarter-second before impact. It may reveal that the truck was traveling 40 miles per hour at the time of impact.

This can show that the driver was traveling too fast and without sufficient following distance. It may reveal that they were not paying attention. In addition, the data may provide evidence that the injuries and harm were the likely result of impact occurring at certain speeds.

Are trucks required to have black boxes?

Yes, but the black boxes that trucks are required to have are not what most people think of when they think of black boxes.

49 C.F.R. § 395.8 requires motor carriers to record driver working hours. Many motor carriers comply with the requirement with an electronic recording system. These electronic records are not what most people think of when they think of black boxes, but they are electronic devices that record information.

How can a truck black box be important to your case?

A truck black box can provide valuable evidence that may not be available otherwise. For example, witnesses may say that the truck was going fast, but they can’t say exactly how fast.

The black box may have precise information. Similarly, information about evasive steering or braking events can reveal whether a driver responded to traffic conditions.

The information in a truck black box may be critical to your case. Of course, you won’t know until you have it. That means you must take the steps to get the black box information for your case.

Why do you need a lawyer to access the black box?

The black box recording is in the control of the trucking company. They’re probably not going to give you the information voluntarily. They may even destroy it. But a lawyer can work quickly on your behalf to save the black box information.

Your lawyer can send a spoliation of evidence letter. This letter demands that the company keep information relevant to your claim. It puts the truck company on notice that they must preserve evidence.

If the company fails to keep the black box information, you may receive a presumption in your claim that the missing evidence would have been favorable to you. It’s important to send the spoliation of evidence letter as quickly as possible, making a demand for preservation of evidence and identifying what needs to be kept.

When you have filed your lawsuit, your lawyer can use formal procedural rules to gather the evidence. They may ask for the production of information and records, admission of key details, and even physical inspection of the truck and black box. You may use this evidence to prove your right to compensation.

Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer in Greenville, SC

Bobby Jones Law represents truck accident victims, including claims where a black box is important to the case. Contact us online today to schedule a consultation.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
  • Named among Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
Contact Bobby
Get a free consultation

Available 24/7

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.