Automobile Black Boxes
Most everyone knows that airplanes have black boxes, but not everyone knows the vehicles we drive are often equipped with black boxes. These “event data recorders” provide a wealth of information and are instrumental for investigators working to determine what factors led up to an accident. When an accident occurs, the black box can be helpful in determining who was at fault.
Your lawyer should be prepared to immediately secure black box data on any case with disputed liability or key issues relating to vehicle speed and force. Lawyers at Hall & Lampros commonly demand preservation of black boxes from defendant vehicles, and work with experts to promptly secure such data before it is destroyed. Those wanting to learn more about automobile black boxes and how they may be useful in a personal injury case may want to consider visiting with an attorney at Hall & Lampros, LLP at 404-876-8100.
Vehicles Equipped with Event Data Recorders
In April of 1997 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study the practicality of installing automobile black boxes on vehicles and gathering crash data for safety evaluation. Since that time, the number of vehicles equipped with EDRs has continued to increase. Vehicles equipped with black boxes include but are not limited to:
- 96% of vehicles manufactured since 2014
- Cadillacs manufactured since 1994
- Various Chevrolet models manufactured in the mid-1990s
- Chryslers manufactured since 2007-2008
- GMCs manufactured since 1996-1997
- Fords manufactured since 2001
The list from Bosch Automotive Service Solutions is exhaustive; unless a vehicle is 20 or 30 years old, it likely has a black box (and many that ARE 20 years old have black boxes). EDRs were initially introduced by General Motors in models equipped with airbags in the mid-1970s.
What Do Automobile Black Boxes Record?
Event data recorders record a plethora of information before, during, and in some cases, following a crash. This depends on whether the airbags deployed, as the black box usually stops recording once airbags deploy so that data is captured and cannot be recorded over. Examples of information that may be recorded include:
- Seatbelt use
- Engine RPM
- Brake activation
- Front seats position
- Crash duration and force
- Deployment of airbags
- Number of impacts
Certain black box models are capable of recording audio or video from the interior of the vehicle; some are also capable of tracking GPS location. Consumer Reports states that data captured by automobile black boxes is the property of the vehicle owner, according to the NHTSA. The black box may record 15 or more variances for approximately 20 seconds prior to an accident, and five to 10 seconds following impact. One thing to note: Black boxes do not work when a vehicle is not running. If a parked car is struck by someone who was negligent, there would be no recorded information to support the victim in a personal injury claim. Those desiring additional information may want to visit with a Georgia personal injury lawyer at Hall & Lampros, LLC.
Automobile Black Boxes and Access
Some states limit who can access black box data, but generally the following persons can retried such data:
- Law enforcement may retrieve data in accordance with a search warrant
- Emergency response workers may retrieve data to determine if medical attention is needed, but ONLY for this purpose
- For research or the intention of enhancing vehicle safety, recorded data may be used (owner’s identity is hidden)
- The vehicle owner or their representative may give consent to the extent of data retrieval and duration, however permission must be in writing
- In civil actions, data may be retrieved in accordance with a legally acceptable discovery request
Use of Black Box Data in Personal Injury Cases
While recorded black box data is not necessary in most personal injury claims, it can be essential in some cases such as:
- Those in which testimony is conflicting and recorded data is key to learning what took place during the accident
- In accidents where a fatality occurred, recorded data can be used to establish what happened
- When parties involved in a crash do not have clear memories of the details surrounding the accident, recorded data is useful
- Determining if there was sufficient force or impact to a vehicle to cause injury
Automobile black boxes can play an instrumental role in the outcome of personal injury claims depending on the circumstances. It is vital to act quickly if you believe electronically recorded data would benefit your case.
Consider Scheduling a Free Consultation
Victims of car accidents deserve fair compensation for medical costs, lost wages, emotional trauma, and other expenses. If you are the victim of a car crash and want to learn more about your legal rights and how to proceed with a personal injury claim, consider scheduling a consultation with a skilled Georgia personal injury attorney at Hall & Lampros, LLP, 404-876-8100.