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What’s a Black Box and How Can it Help My Truck Accident Claim?

What's a Black Box and How Can it Help My Truck Accident Claim?

Commercial truck accidents in Texas have become more common over the past decade. This may be due to the increased number of oil fields across the state, with the U.S. EIA (Energy Information Administration) stating that, in 2020, Texas accounted for 43% of the crude oil produced in the country. 

However, the state of Texas has repeatedly experienced fatal accidents involving commercial trucks on its roads over the years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Texas reported 556 fatal commercial truck accidents in 2017, with statistics increasing each year.

When the victim of a truck accident, or someone who acts on behalf of the victim, seeks to file a claim against a trucking company, they may choose to retain the services of an experienced lawyer who can help them obtain information from the truck’s black box. This data can support a commercial truck accident claim.

What Is a Black Box in a Commercial Truck?

Commonly, a “black box” is a device used on an aircraft that contains information recorded about the flight. For security purposes, none of the information which is stored in the black box is easily accessible. The black box device was created to withstand the most intense conditions and climates to preserve the safety of the data. 

Commercial trucks and other large commercial vehicles also utilize a black box device that records any relevant data from the truck during its time on the road. This data is essential for cases that involve an accident because it provides important information about the time of the collision and the condition of the truck involved in the accident. Federal laws ensure that these black boxes are installed on all commercial trucks and vehicles across Texas, as well as the rest of the country. 

What Information Does a Black Box Provide?

Black boxes are a great tool for obtaining evidence regarding a commercial vehicle at the time of an accident. The information within a black box can be used to determine liability for a collision. The safely stored data on a commercial truck’s black box may include information related to: 

  • How fast the truck was driving before the accident
  • How the steering wheel and tires were positioned 
  • If the truck driver was wearing a seat belt
  • How long the vehicle has been driven consecutively
  • If the brakes were used and when 
  • Maintenance and performance history
  • The average speed of the truck
  • Recent GPS coordinates

When a claim is filed after a truck accident, an accident investigator, working on behalf of the trucking company’s insurance, performs an overview of the case to ensure that all parties are telling the truth and that all aspects of the accident have been thoroughly reviewed. The data obtained from the black box will be used to determine liability for the accident.

How Can You Obtain Data from a Black Box?

Many truck cases are complicated by a victim’s inability to easily obtain access to the data in a black box. Contacting the trucking company involved in the accident and asking them to store the data is the best way to ensure that important information on a black box is not lost. 

In some instances, the normal course of business can cause relevant information from the black box to be lost, which is why it is important to reach out to the trucking company early on in the claim process. 

This is an especially necessary step for truck drivers who hope to file an accident claim since the data present in the black box can help them prove that they were not liable for the incident. After the data has been preserved, it can be downloaded and collected, which is something that a dedicated commercial truck accident lawyer can assist with.