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What is a Black Box in a Truck Accident?

Injured in a Houston Truck Accident?

According to the United States Department of Transporation, a truck accident black box on a truck or 18-wheeler is a device that records information about the truck over a brief period of time before, during, and after an accident.  A truck accident black box contains important information that could affect the ultimate outcome of a case.  A truck accident black box can record the speed of a truck, whether brakes were applied at a certain time, and can determine how long a truck has been driven over a period of time.  There are generally three devices that record information about a truck:  an electronic control module, an electronic logging device, and an event data recorder.  These devices and how we use them to investigate truck accidents are discussed in this article. 

A truck accident black box is similar to the black box in an airplane, and it can record important information about the truck’s speed, engine performance, braking, and other operational data.

The data collected by the 18-wheeler black box can be used to help us determine the cause of an accident or to help trucking companies improve their safety practices. For example, if an accident occurs, investigators can use the data from the black box to determine the truck’s speed at the time of the accident, whether the driver was using the brakes, hours of service, and other important details.

It is important to note that the data stored in the black box is typically the property of the trucking company or the owner of the vehicle, and it can only be accessed by authorized personnel.

Truck Accident Black Box

How Do Lawyers Obtain and Use Data from the Truck's Black Box?

The information and data in the black box devices belong to the trucking companies.  After a truck accident, trucking companies and their insurance companies do not want to disclose this information.   At Molina Law Firm, we immediately put the trucking companies on notice to preserve this information so that we can obtain it once we start investigating the trucking accident.

To access the information stored in an 18-wheeler black box, specialized software and hardware are required. Typically, only authorized individuals, such as investigators, lawyers, law enforcement officers, or the trucking company’s safety personnel, can access the information from the black box.

The process of accessing the black box data can vary depending on the make and model of the truck and the type of black box installed. In general, accessing the black box data requires a diagnostic tool that connects to the device and downloads the data. The data is then analyzed using specialized software that can interpret the data and present it in a meaningful way.

Trucking companies and their insurance companies have people already in place and many financial resources to immediately begin their own investigation the moment an accident happens.  The trucking insurance companies train many people to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, the injured truck accident victim is seeking medical care or even in the hospital.  Also, the trucking company will inevitably try to shift the blame during their investigation.   You need an experienced Houston Truck Accident Lawyer to help you begin your own investigation.

What Is A Truck Electronic Control Module?

A truck electronic control module, also known as an ECM, is a device installed in a commercial truck to monitor and control various engine functions. The ECM collects data from sensors throughout the truck and uses that data to optimize engine performance, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce emissions.

The ECM controls various engine functions such as fuel injection, ignition timing, and exhaust gas recirculation. It also monitors the performance of the engine and other critical components, such as the transmission and braking system.

The ECM is essentially the brain of the truck’s engine management system, and it plays a critical role in ensuring the truck runs efficiently and safely. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the ECM may also include a black box function that collects and stores data related to the truck’s operation, which can be used for diagnostic purposes or in the event of an accident investigation.

What Is A Truck Electronic Logging Device?

A truck electronic logging device (ELD) is a device that is used to record a driver’s hours of service (HOS) electronically. It is a requirement by law for commercial truck drivers to use ELDs to track their hours of service accurately and automatically, replacing paper-based logbooks.

ELDs are designed to capture data from the truck’s engine, including its speed, distance traveled, engine hours, and location, and use this data to generate accurate and reliable records of the driver’s activity. This helps to ensure that drivers are complying with federal regulations regarding hours of service and helps prevent driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of accidents involving commercial trucks.

The ELD data is stored securely and can be accessed by authorized individuals, such as the driver, law enforcement officers, and carrier safety personnel, for compliance purposes. ELDs have become an essential tool for commercial trucking companies and drivers to improve safety, reduce paperwork, and increase efficiency.

What Is A Truck Event Data Recorder?

A truck event data recorder (EDR), also known as a “black box,” is a device installed in commercial trucks that records critical data related to the vehicle’s operation. The EDR is similar to the black boxes found in airplanes, and it can provide valuable information in the event of an accident or other incident.

The EDR collects data from various sensors throughout the truck, such as the vehicle speed, brake application, steering angle, and engine performance, and stores this data in a secure memory chip. This data can then be downloaded and analyzed to determine the cause of an accident or to improve safety practices.

In addition to recording data related to accidents, some EDRs may also record data related to driver behavior, such as speeding or harsh braking, which can be used to improve driver training and safety practices.

It is important to note that the data stored in the EDR is typically the property of the trucking company or the vehicle owner and can only be accessed by authorized individuals, such as investigators or law enforcement officers, with a court order or proper authorization. Additionally, the data collected by the EDR is subject to privacy and confidentiality laws, and access to the data is restricted to specific purposes, such as accident investigation or safety improvement programs.


What To Do After A Truck Accident?

Accidents involving large commercial trucks result in serious injuries, so your health is the number one priority. There are steps to be taken if you have been involved in an 18-wheeler or large truck accident. We have detailed some of the steps here. These steps are some of the more broad, important things that should be taken care of.

Call 911 After An Accident

Get help on the way

If you cannot, get someone to call 911. This will get EMS and police on the way. Get medical attention. Even if you think you may be fine, a medical evaluation is critical.

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Gather information

Take photos, get the other drivers information, get witness information. Try and get as much info as possible.

Police Crash Reports

Get a case number

The police will talk to everyone involved and possibly issue citations. They should provide you with a case number that is needed to obtain the crash report.

If you have been seriously injured, it is important that you get an experienced personal injury attorney to help you. Time is important. Contact us.

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Common Types of Truck Accidents in Houston

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Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents that involve large commercial trucks have a higher chance of serious personal injury or death.  Victims of these types of accidents have substantial financial and health damages.  Many times, these damages are long-term or even permanent.

  • Commercial Truck Drivers are governed by rules and regulations involving their training, on-the-road time, and driving. The company that they work for can also be held liable for their actions.
  • Carrier Companies are regulated in terms of vehicle maintenance, hiring practices, driver training, and other laws that can help determine liability in the event of an accident.
  • Insurance limits of trucking companies and truck operators are much higher than that of other drivers.


If the driver of the 18-wheeler was at fault in the accident, an experienced truck accident attorney will look at the driver, the trucking company, the involved vehicles, and the equipment manufacturers to determine who can be held responsible. In most accident claims, the amount of compensation that can be received is usually limited by the insurance policy.


The second an accident happens, insurance companies have teams of people ready to investigate the accident on their behalf. You need to know that the insurance companies are not investigating the accident on your behalf. The insurance companies also will not share any information with you. If you want an investigation on your behalf, then you need to call us to begin this investigation as soon as possible. As for settlements, you should not accept a settlement from the insurance company until you have had an experienced attorney conduct a review of your case.

At the Molina Law Firm, we will fight cases in court when a settlement cannot be reached. If a settlement does not appear to be fair, then you need to be in a position to fight your case in court.