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What is a Truck’s Black Box And Why is it Important?

Posted on September 9, 2022

It is imperative to understand the various types of evidence that can be used in the aftermath of an accident involving a large commercial truck and other vehicles on the roadway. Anytime a person sustains an injury in a truck accident, liability must be determined in order for individuals to recover compensation. One of the main pieces of evidence that will be used is the truck’s “black box.”

The Black Box That Tells a Story

The black box on a truck, better known as the electronic control module (ECM), is incredibly important, especially if an accident occurs. Similar to the black box on an airplane, this ECM will provide crucial information that investigators and insurance companies need when figuring out what caused a crash.

The ECM is a computer located in the engine compartment and connected to various sensors throughout the truck. This includes information regarding the throttle, brakes, fuel injectors, voltage regulators, and more. This paints a fairly clear picture of the truck’s diagnostic health during the timeframe leading up to an incident.

In addition to the ECM, there is also an electronic data recorder typically attached to the same computer. This is what most people think of when they consider looking for the black box after an accident. This recorder makes a note of other aspects of the truck, including seatbelt usage, hard braking, speed, and more.

The ECM and the EDR are often requested by all parties involved in these cases, including insurance carriers and legal teams. However, these are not the “end all, be all” for evidence surrounding a truck accident claim. Other types of evidence will also be gathered, including eyewitness statements, video surveillance footage from nearby cameras, photographs taken at the scene of the incident, and more. For complicated accident scenes, an accident reconstruction expert may be brought in to help with the process.

All of the evidence will provide those reviewing the claim an inside look at what happened. This type of evidence is more important than eyewitness statements because eyewitnesses can be wrong. However, the data provided by an ECM is neutral. It simply states the facts as they were recorded. There is a big difference between an eyewitness saying they “don’t think they saw a truck driver slow down” and an ECM actually showing that the driver failed to slow down.

Working With an Attorney

It is imperative to work with a skilled Illinois truck accident lawyer who can use their resources and experience to thoroughly investigate the crash. An attorney will send a letter of spoliation to the other parties involved informing them of their responsibilities in keeping all evidence related to the potential claim. A lawyer will make sure they independently investigate the crash instead of relying solely on others’ investigations.

If you or someone you care about has been injured or sustained property damage in a crash caused by the actions of a truck driver or trucking company, reach out to an attorney for help as soon as possible.