evidence from a semi-truck's black boxAfter a tragic airplane crash, we follow news reports about retrieving the airplane’s “black box” or flight data recorder. We understand that this device contains important information about what was happening to the plane at the time of the crash and that it is somehow indestructible.

What you may not know is that most commercial semi-trucks have similar devices, also sometimes referred to as black boxes, but officially known as the truck’s event data recorder (EDR). And just like in an airplane crash, this device holds vital evidence of the cause of the crash.

Why You Need to Get Ahold of the Truck’s EDR If You're Injured

While EDRs aren't required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost all vehicles have some version of this equipment. Most of these devices record essential information, such as the following:

  • Pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status. This includes vehicle speed, engine RPM, steering wheel activity, and breaking for the five seconds before a crash.
  • Driver inputs. Did the truck operator brake, downshift, accelerate rapidly, or make sudden turns before crashing? The EDR has this information.
  • Vehicle crash signature. The severity of the crash, including velocity and force of impact, is documented on the EDR.
  • Restraint usage/deployment status. EDRs record use of seatbelts and deployment of airbags,
  • Post-crash data. The activation of an automatic collision notification system is recorded in an EDR.

As you can see, this kind of data could be vital in determining the cause of a truck crash. However, it won’t be easy for the victim of a semi-truck crash to obtain this important device. However, working with a truck accident attorney will help you get the evidence you need to prove liability.

Contact Mahaney & Pappas to Investigate Your Accident

As your legal counsel, one of the first things our team does is send the truck driver and their employer a spoliation letter, which legally compels them to preserve key pieces of evidence, including the EDR. If you were injured in a truck crash in Massachusetts, contact the attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas. We'll get to work obtaining evidence right away.


Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.