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Do Trucks Have a Black Box?

By Jason Bottlinger on April 23, 2022

If you get into an accident with a big rig truck, the insurance company will do everything they can to prevent you from getting a fair settlement that will cover the cost of your medical care and other expenses caused by the accident.

Insurance companies have rapid response teams that will go to the scene of an accident and try to make it difficult for victims to hold truck drivers and their employers responsible for the damage they have caused. They may even manipulate evidence and pressure victims, first responders, and other witnesses to make statements that could hurt your claim.

Most modern trucks have recording devices commonly referred to as a black box that capture key information about how the accident occurred. Truck companies will often try to suppress or destroy black box information. If you have been in an accident involving a big rig truck, it’s essential to contact a truck accident lawyer right away. They will fight to preserve black box information and hold truckers and trucking companies accountable for the harm they have done.

What Is a Truck’s Black Box?

Everybody knows that airplanes have a black box that records the plane’s mechanical status and decisions made in the cockpit. Most trucks built since the late 1990s have similar technology.

When people talk about a truck’s black box, they are referring to an Electronic Data Recorder (EDR). An EDR records what the truck driver was doing at the time of the crash and it also provides information about mechanical malfunctions that may have contributed to the accident.

EDRs can tell us if the driver was speeding or if they failed to brake in a timely manner. EDRs collect the following types of crucial information:

  • Sudden deceleration
  • Airbag deployment
  • Seatbelt tensioner activation
  • Cruise control status
  • Brake application
  • Clutch application
  • Wheel turning

The EDR may contain a record of communications between the truck driver and their employer. There could be emails that tell us about driver fatigue and mechanical problems. The EDR may reveal important facts about the truck’s driving and maintenance history, including:

  • Monthly or daily activity
  • How often the truck drove above speed limit
  • Hard stops and RPM between stops
  • Crashes and time between crash events
  • Hours-of-service violations
  • Maintenance records
  • Tire pressure
  • GPS location

Preserving Black Box Information

Unlike the black box in an airplane, the information in an EDR belongs to the trucking company. They can manipulate how it operates by adjusting the triggering thresholds. They can even disable the EDR altogether.

Most EDRs record data for about 30 days before information is recorded over. This period is shorter for older trucks. Trucking companies may erase EDR information after an accident and it can also be lost if someone continues to drive the truck after the accident.

Your truck accident lawyer can send a data preservation letter to prevent an insurance company from destroying EDR data. Your attorney can also file a restraining order and demand to have an expert present when the EDR information is downloaded so nothing will be lost or destroyed.

Were You Injured by a Careless Truck Driver?

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we help people who have been injured by the negligence and wrongful acts of others. Our personal injury law team brings years of knowledge and experience to the table, and we are driven by a passion to achieve justice for the injured.

Call (402) 505-8234 to learn more today. We’re on your side.

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Posted in: Truck Accidents

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