Cotten Schmidt

Cotten Schmidt

The Role of Black Boxes in Trucking Litigation

Commercial Truck, Semi,

Black Boxes, or event data recorders (EDRs), are becoming increasingly common evidence in trucking litigation[1]. Here's how Black Boxes can help you protect your trucking or insurance company in trucking litigation.

Black Boxes are electronic devices installed in both commercial and consumer vehicles that record data such as speed, braking, acceleration, and other vehicle performance metrics.[2] The data is usually saved in a collision that causes the airbags to deploy, usually up to the prior few seconds before the accident.[3] It can even show if occupants were utilizing proper safety equipment like seat belts. [4] In the event of an accident, the data collected by the Black Box can be downloaded and analyzed to assist in determining the cause of the accident.

Black Boxes can provide valuable data to help you defend your trucking or insurance company against claims of negligence or misconduct. For example, if a truck driver is accused of speeding or failing to brake, the data from the Black Box can be used to determine whether or not the accusations against the truck driver have merit. [5]The Black Box data produces concrete evidence by removing or rejecting potentially biased evidence and the importance of “he-said/she-said” court testimony.[6] The 5th court of appeals ruled in a recent case that a crash data report “constitutes computer-generated data containing objectively recorded facts.”[7] The Black Box of a vehicle is a computer and, by definition, cannot be a declarant to qualify for the hearsay rule. In another case, the defendant City of Abilene was able to successfully defend against a negligence claim for the actions of their employee garbage truck operator by relying on Black Box data as evidence that the driver of the other vehicle in the collision was driving at such an excessive speed as to be the sole proximate cause of the accident.[8]

Black Boxes can be valuable tools for defending your trucking company or insurance company in the event of trucking litigation. By collecting and preserving data, you can build a strong defense against claims of negligence or misconduct. If you are facing trucking litigation, it's crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can help you obtain and analyze Black Box data to build a strong defense. With careful analysis of data and strong legal representation, your company can protect its interests and minimize liability.

This blog post is intended to be for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always consult with qualified legal counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation, as every case is unique. This also does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.


[1] See Sean Kilcar, Black-box recorders for trucks gaining fans, Fleet owner, (Aug. 28, 2009),

[2] Black Box Data, Applied Technical services, (last visited 04/05/2023),

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] See TXI Transp. Co. v. Hughes, 306 S.W.3d 230, 234–240 (Tex. 2010).

[6] Black Box Data, supra note 2.

[7] Nguyen v. State, No. 05-20-00241-CR, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 6533, at *21 (Tex. App.—Dallas Aug. 29, 2022, pet. ref'd).

[8] Flores v. Verastegui, No. 11-18-00166-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 6874, at *1-2 (Tex. App.—Eastland Aug. 27, 2020, no pet.).