Van-Lear Eckert
Experienced Southern Illinois Attorney
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What information is stored in semitruck “black boxes”?

| Jan 28, 2021 | Personal Injury |

Many people are unaware that semitrucks have black boxes inside that record most of the movements the truck makes. Black boxes are devices that gather information about the vehicle’s operation and then stores that data for a predetermined length of time. Normally, a black box will store information for up to 30 days.

Black boxes in trucks work similarly to the black boxes found in planes and other kinds of transportation. The way those boxes work will vary based on the specific kind being used.

What kinds of black boxes are there?

There are a few kinds of black boxes, such as those that turn on only when a crash-like condition occurs. For example, that black box may begin recording when there is a hard brake or sudden acceleration above a certain approved amount.

Other kinds of black boxes record when the truck is in motion. Those boxes may record up to 30 days of data, for example, but then loop back over the data once that time has passed.

Electronic data recorders are designed to hold many more hours or days of information. They may record for 30 days or even longer.

What information is stored in a truck’s black box?

A truck’s black box may store information such as:

  • The driver’s speed
  • Records of the vehicle stopping
  • Sudden actions, like swerving
  • The hours the vehicle was in use

This and other data can be used to corroborate witness statements and to help experts understand what happened leading up to a crash.

Black box interpretation matters

How a black box’s data is interpreted is the most important factor in any case. The data has to be matched up with the driver’s schedule, the local speed limit and other factors, so that it’s possible to see if they were speeding, behind schedule, showing signs of drowsiness or being reckless like witnesses may claim.

If you’re involved in a crash with a semi, a black box may be present. It’s a good idea to find out about that data as soon as possible, so that it isn’t accidentally erased or lost as time passes.