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Commercial trucks’ “black boxes” — crucial after an accident

August 21, 2018

Whenever we see news of another plane crash, inevitably some of the pundits and talking heads begin asking about how long it will take to retrieve the plane’s “black box.” Most people generally understand that these black boxes record several kinds of very important information about the flight and are built to remain intact, even in a high-speed crash.

What many people do not know is that large commercial trucks also contain data capture devices similar to planes’ back boxes. In the trucking world, these are known as electronic control modules, or ECMs. While not all trucks have them, most trucks manufactured since the mid 1990s do.

If you recently experienced a large truck accident, it is vital that you do everything you can to get ahold of the truck’s ECM as quickly as you can. If you wait, the owner of the truck may destroy the data, making it much more difficult to build a strong case and file a successful injury claim.

What data does the box collect?

If you succeed in obtaining data from the ECM, you have a much stronger chance of building a detailed, comprehensive picture of the events that led to the accident, especially if you suspect that the driver of the truck caused the accident out of negligence.

These devices record a variety of data, usually for a period of 30 days at a time, including:

  • Time spent idling
  • Total drive time
  • Total drive time over 65 miles per hour
  • Highest speed
  • Average speed
  • Average RPMs within the engine
  • Usage of seat belts
  • Airbag usage

Combing through this data can provide crucial insight into the habits of the driver and the amount of driving they did before the accident. Of course, you have a fairly small window of time to seek out this information.

Act now for strongest results

Like we mentioned earlier, the owner of the vehicle has the legal right to destroy the data. Unless you legally request it before the owner can destroy it, there is a small likelihood that it will hang round. In most instances where the data may incriminate the driver and their employer, the ECM gets wiped clean of data fairly quickly.

If you hope to build a strong claim, you need as much detailed information as you can find to ensure that your claim is compelling and stands up to scrutiny. Through careful planning with high-quality legal resources and guidance, you can build a claim that addresses your needs directly and keep your rights protected while you work on your recovery. Don’t wait to build your claim until the evidence you need evaporates. Instead, you can act today to build the future you deserve.

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