What is a Semi-Truck Black Box?
Semi-trucks represent an immense threat to all others that share the road with them due to their immense size and difficulty of operation. This creates a very high risk of accidents occurring should a semi-truck driver or others involved in the truck’s operation act negligently. Semi-truck accidents are some of the most destructive so it has become an industry standard for them to be outfitted with an event data recorder which more colloquially is referred to as a “black box”.
This device has the potential to provide invaluable evidence in a truck accident investigation part of a truck accident claim or lawsuit. Knowledge of these devices and the benefits they can provide can sometimes mean the difference between success or failure when seeking compensation after a semi-truck accident.
What is a Black Box?
The term “black box” originated within the aviation industry and refers to a flight recorder on a plane that records all of the data of the flight and originally consisted of a number of recording instruments in a black box. These days, the term is not quite as literal in terms of the device’s appearance but the function remains the same. A black box provides useful information regarding a vehicle’s positioning, speed, status, etc. This can help in a number of ways but can be especially helpful in the event of an accident. A recovered black box can give all of the data of a vehicle right up until the moment of a crash which can help those investigating the accident greatly.
Semi-Truck Event Data Recorders
Event data recorders can be found in a number of different types of vehicles ranging from heavy machinery to passenger vehicles. Semi-trucks utilize very different methods of event data recording compared to smaller passenger vehicles and while most of them will utilize some form of event data recorder there are still many trucks that go without since they are not required by law.
Semi-Truck Vs. Car Event Data Recorders
Unlike smaller cars, most semi-trucks lack airbags and many other safety systems found in smaller cars. Smaller passenger vehicles will usually have their black box device work within this system that records safety information in addition to all the usual information regarding the vehicle’s positioning, speed, etc. Smaller passenger vehicle event data recorders will trigger during a crash because of this and preserve useful information.
Semi-trucks utilize what is known as an engine control module or ECM which is directly integrated into the engine’s components. This device records a variety of information that is then passed to an event data recording device. The problem is that the ECM does not trigger in the event of an accident in order to preserve the data it has collected. Passenger vehicle event data recorders will record relevant crash data when it detects that there has been an accident. Semi-truck ECMs do not work specifically to preserve crash data but instead capture general travel and truck operation data for trucking companies and manufacturers to utilize.
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Semi-Truck ECM Data
While semi-truck ECMs do not function specifically to record data relevant to a crash and its investigation, the information they record such as speed, rpm, throttle, and brake status can be very useful in an investigation. Semi-truck event data recorders will typically record the following types of data.
- Calibration data
- Event data
- Fault data
- Historical data
The data collection between trucks can vary depending on the make of the engine, the trucking company, and even the driver sometimes. This makes for an irregular composition of data that one can expect to retrieve from an event data recorder. This can also influence the retrieval of the data since the amount of data and its retention time can be altered by trucking companies with differing policies.
How a Semi-Truck Black Box Can Help
The data offered by a semi-truck ECM can prove invaluable when investigating a semi-truck accident since it can assist in semi-truck accident reconstruction. This process involves using the data surrounding a semi-truck accident in order to create a model that shows exactly what happened in an accident. This is useful for showing what caused the accident and consequently, who was at fault.
The data offered by a semi-truck black box can also help clarify other details such as the intensity of the collision, the actions taken by the driver, etc. that can help with proving drunk driving or the severity of injuries. Gathering as much evidence as possible regarding the circumstances of a truck accident is key in any semi-truck accident case. Sometimes the smallest detail such as the speed a vehicle was going can make or break a case and whether or not someone injured by truck driver negligence can get the compensation they deserve.
Securing a Semi-Truck Black Box
Getting the information that is available through a semi-truck engine control module is not as simple as asking politely and getting to hook up a computer to one and tapping a few buttons to download. The trucking company and the insurance company know the information contained in these devices can be valuable to your case against them so having an experienced truck accident attorney’s assistance to get ahold of this evidence is highly recommended.
Seek an Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
At Dolman Law Group, we regularly assist individuals who were involved in serious car accidents involving semis. We offer a free consultation, which gives you the opportunity to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys, and determine if you have a valid truck accident claim.
Our free consultation does not involve any obligation to become a client. If we agree to represent you, you will need to sign a retainer agreement before we start work on your case. Every case is different, and recovery depends on the specifics of each individual case, so we cannot guarantee a favorable result. However, we always do our best to ensure that our clients are fully compensated for their injuries.
Many factors could limit full recovery, and these factors are best explained by a truck accident attorney licensed to practice law in Florida. Contact the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg online or at (727) 222-6922, and talk to one of our experienced attorneys today.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL, 33712