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Black Box Technology

It is common knowledge that airplanes have “black boxes” that record information as the plane flies through the air. What may be less known is that even small passenger cars have similar black box technology. Event Data Recorders (EDRs) constantly record data, but they only save the information if the vehicle is in a crash. The data recorded by these devices can prove useful in determining the cause of a crash. In fact, if you are involved in an accident, it may be in your best interest to request an evaluation of the EDR information in your vehicle and in any other vehicle involved in the collision.

EDR Facts

In 1997, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued recommendations for automakers to start installing EDRs. By 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began developing plans to collect data from on-board EDRs. In August 2006, NHTSA set a time table for vehicle manufacturers to voluntarily install EDRs in all vehicles by September 1, 2010, which was later put off to September 1, 2012. Therefore, if you have purchased a new car recently, it probably has an EDR.

What Data is Collected?

NHTSA recently decided that the minimum requirements for crash data that must be recorded by EDRs includes but is not limited to:

  • The speed of the vehicle prior to impact
  • Whether or not the throttle or brake were applied before the crash
  • If the seat belt was in use
  • If the airbag deployed

How This Data Can Prove Useful

Many consumers are concerned about how the data collected by EDRs will be used and who has the right to view the data. A number of states have already passed laws that make the EDR data the vehicle owner’s property. That does not, however, prevent police officers from using the data during an investigation or from those involved in an accident to petition the court for access to the data during civil litigation.

Moving forward, the information collected by EDRs will likely be used in more and more civil cases. For example, if you are hurt in a car accident, you may choose to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver to receive support for your medical bills and lost wages. If that driver claims that he or she was not speeding, you could petition the court for EDR data, which would clearly show the speed of the at-fault driver’s vehicle. You could also show that you were obeying the speed limit or that you were applying your brake before the crash. This information could lend credibility to your version of how the crash occurred.

In any civil lawsuit involving an auto accident, getting access to information in a data recorder can be invaluable. The first step is to determine whether the vehicle has a black box. This can be verified by checking the owner’s manual of the vehicle. Once it has been determined that the car had a black box, it should be requested and preserved. Information from the EDRs can be critical when it comes to accident reconstruction.

Contact a Jacksonville Car Accident Lawyer at Farah & Farah at 877-245-6707

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident and need your legal questions answered, please contact a Jacksonville car accident attorney at Farah & Farah today for a free consultation.