What’s a Semi Truck’s Black Box?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2021, there were over half a million (523,796) large truck accidents across the United States. 

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are a common occurrence, and as Tampa personal injury attorneys, we help people who’ve been involved in trucking accidents get the compensation they deserve. 

In a previous blog post, we shared three common causes of trucking accidents

And today, we’re going a bit more in-depth by talking about the black box in a semi-truck. 

Though you might not consider semi-trucks to be nothing more than a large vehicle, they’re actually technologically advanced machines. 

So, what’s a black box? Let’s find out. 

What’s a semi-truck’s black box?

A black box is an electronic system that records and stores important data about the vehicle’s performance and the driver’s behavior. This information is especially important to review after an accident to see if the driver was abiding by the rules of the road or if there was a technical malfunction with the semi-truck, for example. 

Four functions of a semi-truck’s black box

  1. Data collection – The black box of a semi-truck collects data. This data includes everything from speed and acceleration to braking patterns and the truck’s location. If an incident occurs, this data is crucial in understanding the events that led to an accident. 
  2. Enforces road safety – Do you ever see those bumper stickers on a commercial vehicle that ask, How’s my driving? A black box provides an unbiased answer to that question as it monitors the truck’s speed, time of rest breaks, and other industry-specific rules that promote safety. 
  3. Accident investigation – To that point, if an accident happens, the black box becomes a focal point for investigators as it provides a detailed account of the moments that led to the accident. This information paints a better picture and deepens the investigators’ understanding of the factors that might have contributed to the accident and to determine liability. 
  4. Managing maintenance – The main purpose of a black box is safety and this includes truck maintenance as well. A black box monitors a truck’s performance which helps determine if maintenance is needed to proactively fix any issues that could lead to an accident in the future if not handled properly. 

Black box data and trucking accidents

If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, the black box data can be a crucial piece of evidence to establish who was at fault. 

Unfortunately, though the black box is a valuable source of data, victims aren’t privy to the information. That’s because, under law, a truck’s black box belongs to the owner. This means if a trucking company is involved in an accident, obtaining the black box data will be difficult but not impossible. 

To build on this point, we want to note that time is of the essence following a trucking accident because, in some cases, the company can destroy the information so it can’t be used in a personal injury case. Though that might be an extreme example, data retrieval is a difficult process. 

And, it’s for this reason, among many, why it’s imperative to seek legal counsel immediately following a trucking accident. As Tampa personal injury attorneys, we’ll help you through the process and ultimately get you the compensation you need and deserve. 

Have you or someone you know been involved in a trucking accident? If so, contact us today and book your free case evaluation.