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“Black boxes” may help resolve truck accident claims

As soon as the news media learns about a plane crash, part of the narrative is usually asking about when exactly the investigators will locate the plane's "black box," which records crucial flight data and is also manufactured to survive a crash. While it may seem cliche at this point, recovering the black box after plane crash is often an essential part of piecing together exactly what caused the accident in the first place.

Much less well known is that commercial trucks also contain black boxes that record several kinds of data about the truck and the driver's habits while behind the wheel. This is information that may prove very important to victims in a commercial truck accident.

Like any traffic accident, it is always wise to collect as much information about the accident and the events that led to it as possible when building a personal injury claim. However, unlike other accidents that only involve consumer vehicles, commercial truck accidents necessitate gathering two additional kinds of evidence, the data from the truck's own black box and the driver's log.

What are these black boxes?

We've been referring to the data recording devices in commercial trucks as black boxes, because most people are familiar with the analogous devices in airplanes, but it is more accurate to call the electronic control modules. Electronic control modules, or ECMs, gather several different kinds of data from the truck and stores that data for a set amount of time.

While the specifics may vary, ECMs generally aggregate data about the speed of the truck and other functions, such as

  • The highest speed the truck traveled in the recorded time frame
  • The average speed of the truck
  • The amount of time that the truck idled
  • The amount of time the truck drove over 65 miles per hour
  • Average RPMs in the engine
  • Instances of seatbelt use
  • Instances of airbag deployment

Obtaining this information is very useful when building an injury claim or property damage claim after an accident. Of course, if you want to get ahold of this data, you must act immediately.

ECM data disappears… fast

Here is where things can get complicated. The owner of a truck also owns the ECM inside it. This means that the owner has the right to delete the data on it. The only way to prevent the owner from deleting this data is to formally request it. If the owner of the ECM deletes the data before receiving the request, there is no way to regain that data for a claim.

If you recently suffered injuries or serious property loss in a truck accident, you must begin building your claim as soon as you possibly can, likely starting with requesting the ECM data. The longer you wait to build your claim, the more evidence is lost, making it more and more difficult to build a compelling claim and secure the compensation that you truly deserve. Make sure to protect your rights with a strong claim immediately, so that you can focus on your recovery.

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