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Arnold & Itkin LLP Truck Accident Blog2019DecemberDo Trucks Have a Black Box?

Do Trucks Have a Black Box?

Accidents involving semi-trucks are frequently serious thanks to the size and weight of these giant vehicles. An 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds fully loaded. So, when involved in an accident, these trucks can cause carnage to smaller cars and their occupants. When an attorney needs to help someone recover losses from an accident involving a tractor-trailer, they must prove who is at fault for the incident. Fortunately, most trucks have devices on them that help to unravel the mystery of what caused an accident to occur.

The Electronic Control Module: A Truck's “Black Box”

When an airplane accident occurs, many people bring up finding the aircraft’s black box to help determine what happened. Aircraft black boxes record crucial flight data to help investigators understand events leading to an accident. Trucks have a black box of their own, officially known as an Electronic Control Module, or ECM for short. Initially made by truck manufacturers to record engine abuse for warranties, these devices have become a critical piece to accident investigations.

An ECM records information such as:

  • The average speed of a truck
  • A truck’s maximum speed
  • How long a driver has been on the road
  • Average engine RPM
  • Safety restraint usage
  • Airbag functionality
  • Rest time

ECMs are important as they can be compared to a driver’s personal log to determine accuracy. Additionally, they can provide information leading up to moments before a crash, including how fast a truck was moving and when a driver applied brakes.

Is ECM Data Protected by the Law?

Not all states have laws that make deleting data from an ECM illegal. In fact, many states have laws that make ECM data the property of a truck company. So, an attorney's help will be needed to secure this important information after an accident. Reaching a written agreement with the truck company or filing a protective order for the ECM data are steps a lawyer should take for a case. Additionally, obtaining ECM data from other trucks near the accident might help piece together the chain of events leading to the incident.

Call Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today at (888) 490-0442

If you’ve suffered because of an accident involving a truck, it’s time to call Arnold & Itkin as soon as possible. Our team of truck accident lawyers has helped clients recover billions of dollars. When we take your case, we’ll immediately begin investigating the accident to compile the evidence needed to win the compensation that you deserve. We’ll approach your case from every angle and will never accept less than you deserve. Best of all, an initial consultation is free and, if we take a case, we only collect a fee if we obtain results for you.


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