What Information Does a Truck Black Box Provide?

Published on Feb 28, 2022 at 4:23 pm in Truck Accidents.

truck cab

Large trucks can be dangerous, but they are also a necessary part of everyday life in Illinois. Everything from grocery stores and restaurants to retail establishments rely on these large trucks to safely transport products in a timely manner. Protecting passenger vehicle occupants while also balancing consumer needs is essential.

Strict regulations on things like hours of service and maintenance protect everyone on the road. But how can we be so sure that truck drivers and companies comply with these regulations? Electronic logging devices (ELDs) log important data that can be useful for monitoring truck driver behavior. Also called a truck black box, the information that a truck black box provides can also be helpful for proving fault after a truck accident.

However, accessing the information stored in a truck’s black box is not always easy. If you have any questions or concerns about the information on this page or how to get black box data regarding your accident, you may find it helpful to speak with one of our Illinois truck accident attorneys.

Key Black Box Information

Truck black boxes collect various information on both driver behavior and truck conditions. Here is just a sample of the kind of information a truck black box provides:

  • Drive Time
  • GPS Locations
  • Engine Diagnostics
  • Ignition Status
  • Driving Speeds
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Fault Codes
  • Harsh or Sudden Braking
  • Tampering
  • Collisions

This data can create a snapshot of what happened prior to an accident. It may also show a history of poor driving behavior or a lack of maintenance and upkeep by the trucking company.

How Do Truck Black Boxes Help?

While most truck drivers are simply trying to do their best to complete their job duties safely, trucking companies are not exactly well known for prioritizing safety. Indeed, many actively prioritize profits over anything else. This kind of pressure can make even the most cautious truck driver behave in an unsafe manner behind the wheel.

This is where the truck black box can come in handy. Since it records important data about the truck and driver behavior, it can actively discourage truckers from engaging in unnecessarily dangerous or even illegal behavior.

If a driver still makes dangerous decisions behind the wheel despite the presence of the logging device, data collected by the black box can help show if they were at fault for a trucking accident. This type of data is invaluable if you are hurt in a trucking accident and need to prove fault when seeking compensation.

How Long Can a Black Box Hold Information?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies to hang on to black box information for at least six months. It also requires trucking companies to create a back-up copy of the records, which are stored separately from the original and kept for six months.

Authorized safety officials have access to these records. As such, trucking companies are supposed to store the black box data in a way that protects drivers’ privacy.

Additionally, FMCSA will retain certain black box data when there is a violation.

Which Trucks Have Black Boxes?

Truck black boxes are not as new as you might think. Starting in the 1980s, some trucking companies started using ELDs as a convenient way to record their drivers’ hours-of-service. However, as satellite communications were still relatively new at the time, these black boxes were not as effective at collecting data.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began pushing for legislation that would require all commercial trucking companies to use black boxes in the late-1980s.

Despite these and other efforts, the FMCSA did not implement a black box mandate on large commercial trucks until Dec. 2015, with the window for compliance stretching through Dec. 2019.

There are still exceptions to the FMCSA’s black box mandate. The following are not required to use ELDs:

  • Drivers who use paper records of duty status (RODS) for eight or fewer days out of every 30 days.
  • Vehicles that were manufactured before the year 2000.
  • Drivers who engage in drive-away-tow-away operations. This is when the vehicle that the truck driver is operating is a commodity they are delivering.

Types of Trucking Accidents

It is unclear whether black boxes work as well at preventing accidents as experts initially believed they would. Prior to the black box mandate, truck accidents killed 3,903 people in 2014. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 4,895 people died in trucking accidents in 2020, a full year after the final mandate compliance date.

This does not mean that truck black boxes are entirely ineffective. In fact, they are an invaluable tool for determining fault in truck crashes caused by:

  • Rollovers
  • Jackknifing
  • Wide Turns
  • Tire Blowouts
  • Inadequate Training
  • Rear-End or Head-On Collisions
  • T-Bones
  • Underrides
  • Blind Spots
  • Speeding
  • Hours-of-Service Violations

Taking Steps After a Truck Accident

Few experiences are more terrifying and confusing than being involved in a truck accident. Your physical injuries are only one aspect of the damages you might have suffered, as you may also be dealing with things like emotional trauma, medical bills, and lost income from missed days at work.

You deserve dignity and respect during a time like this. Unfortunately, trucking and insurance companies often keep a close eye on their bottom lines, even if it means ignoring trucking accident victims and their needs.

At Prince Law Firm, we understand that taking on the insurance company by yourself can be a challenge. Whether you need help securing information about your crash from the truck black box or pursuing compensation that is necessary to your recovery, we can help. Do not hesitate to reach out for a free consultation about your accident.



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