Importance of the “Black Box”

Since the 1990’s, many commercial motor vehicles in the United States are manufactured with Electronic Control Modules, which are also called black boxes. Black boxes are designed to log all of a truck’s operational data. Black boxes prove essential in demonstrating a commercial truck driver’s liability in a collision. This article will examine the importance of black boxes, which serve such an essential role in establishing information about commercial motor vehicle accidents that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has passed numerous regulations regarding black boxes.

The Type of Information That Black Boxes Provide

Black boxes provide a variety of information including air bag performance, changes in velocity including braking, directions traveled, driving speed, left to right acceleration, the presence of passengers in the commercial motor vehicle, points of impact, seat belt usage, and time the vehicle was driven among other pieces of information.

Ways Black Boxes Can Be Used

Electronic control modules are essential but difficult to effectively use in courts of law to establish the negligence of commercial truck drivers. As a result, a skilled lawyer is necessary when commercial motor vehicles accident involve a black box. There are several ways in which a black box is important during accident litigation.

  • Black boxes can be used during trial to confirm or deny information that witnesses provide about the accident.
  • In A Deposition. After the deposition of key accident witnesses, a lawyer can use a black box to confirm or deny information the witness provided about the accident.
  • A Tool for Experts. During a trial, experts in car crashes can use information gleaned from the black box to demonstrate to a jury how an accident occurred. Experts often use the information downloaded from black boxes to create graphic displays of how the accident occurred, which can prove very effective in persuading a jury exactly how the accident occurred.

Limitations to the Use of Black Boxes

In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report on black boxes, the organization reminds readers that some black boxes might be limited in use because some black boxes might not outlast the accident and early black box models restrict data retrieval to vehicle manufacturers. An experienced truck accident lawyer will understand sensitive issues regarding black boxes such as the recorders typically overwriting a commercial truck’s data every thirty days and that black boxes are often destroyed soon after a collision.