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What is a Truck’s Black Box and Why is It Important?

Posted in Firm News

If you get involved in a truck accident, you will most likely hear the phrase “black box” – especially when the topic of crash evidence gets brought up. A truck’s black box is a piece of equipment that may have collected information about the moments leading up to a crash. For this reason, preserving and obtaining a truck’s black box can be critical during a truck accident injury lawsuit in New Mexico.

What Is the Black Box on a Large Truck?

Most people associate black boxes with airplanes, as the surviving piece of technology that can provide information about a plane crash. They do not realize that many commercial trucks are also equipped with black boxes. A black box is a data recorder, or a computer system that constantly collects data about the vehicle and sends it to a drive or external database. A truck’s black box is also sometimes referred to as an electronic control module or event data recorder. Not all commercial trucks have black boxes, but their use has become more widespread since the 1990s.

What Type of Information Does the Black Box Record?

While a large truck is in operation, its black box is constantly recording and storing information. It will collect data about the truck, the actions of the truck driver and the moments leading up to a truck accident. Some of the data that a truck’s black box may record includes:

  • The truck’s speed before the crash
  • If there was a sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Whether the truck driver applied the brakes before the collision
  • How often the driver drove above the speed limit
  • If the truck driver was using cruise control
  • The exact location/GPS coordinates of the truck accident
  • The truck’s tire pressure and other key metrics
  • The condition and performance of the truck
  • How many separate collisions the truck was involved in
  • Whether the truck driver was wearing a seat belt
  • Whether the truck’s airbag deployed
  • Communications between the truck driver and trucking company


All of this information could potentially be used as evidence during a truck accident claim. An injured victim may be able to prove that the truck driver was speeding or driving erratically in the moments leading up to a crash, for example, based on the data obtained from the black box. This information could provide hard evidence against the truck driver or trucking company.

How to Obtain a Black Box’s Data

It is important to act quickly to preserve the data stored in a truck’s black box after a truck accident. As an injured victim, you will have to go up against powerful adversaries in a truck accident lawsuit, including a trucking company, its legal team and an insurance provider. Many trucking companies will send rapid response teams to the scene of an accident immediately – sometimes, even before the police arrive. Although trucking companies are not legally allowed to tamper with evidence such as the black box, there is no guarantee that this won’t occur.

The best way to preserve and access black box information is by hiring a truck accident lawyer to assist you. A lawyer can issue subpoenas or file motions against the trucking company immediately to prevent them from destroying black box data. Legal action can also force a trucking company to turn over black box data to investigators, if necessary. Once this information has been collected, your attorney can search for ways to use the black box’s data to support and strengthen your injury claim.