Black Boxes in the Trucking Industry

In the mid to late 1990s, black boxes became more prevalent in the trucking industry. Many truck engine manufacturers have developed and incorporated into their engines an electronic control module (ECM). A truck’s ECM can contain a wealth of information that is extremely useful for physically reconstructing the sequence of events immediately leading up to and shortly after a collision.

Information typically found in a truck’s ECM includes vehicle speed, throttle position, brake and pedal application, and clutch status. This information will show the truck driver’s conduct before the traffic accident. Additionally, the ECM data may show the change in velocity or speed of the truck after the collision. This information can go a long way to either prove or disprove a case.

A truck’s ECM may provide additional information, which can be useful in proving liability against a truck driver and the trucking company. An ECM may also record a truck’s total driving time, total vehicle driving distance, trip driving time, trip distance, average driving speed, and the maximum recorded speed. Further, some truck manufacturers have engines capable of transmitting real time vehicle and engine data to a trucking company’s home office.

Comparing Driving Information

The data obtained from a truck’s ECM should be compared to the truck driver’s logbook. The applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations limit the amount of driving and “on duty” time a driver may have in a day or for a consecutive eight day period, including the day a car accident took place. The purpose of these limits is to prevent accidents due to driver fatigue.

Frequently, truck drivers will falsify their logbooks to show they are in compliance with the federal driving and “on duty” limits. However, a close comparison of the data from the ECM with the trucker’s logbook will often show that the trucker should not have even been on the road at the time of the wreck causing you or loved ones injuries.

Additionally, if the truck transmits the ECM data on a real-time basis to the trucker’s employer, you may have an additional recovery action against the employer or separate causes of action, such as negligent entrustment against the employer’s dispatcher or safety director.

In a trucking accident, our firm carefully investigates all of these matters and information so that we can be in the best position possible to prove your case.

It’s critical to obtain ECM evidence before the ECM is lost or destroyed, as well as other evidence concerning truck driving records.  Please call me so that I can learn about your case and begin the important process of securing this evidence.

There are no fees to us unless we win a judgment on your behalf at trial, or unless we obtain a settlement for you.  We offer a free private consultation so that we may learn about your case, and so that you have the opportunity to ask us questions about the legal process or how we can represent you.

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St. Louis, MO 63017

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