Many people are unaware that their motor vehicle contains a device known as a “Black Box,” which is constantly recording data. The device is officially called an Event Data Recorder (EDR) which was first introduced in cars by General Motors in 1974. While the device was originally used to deploy airbags within milliseconds of a detected crash, the modern EDR is capable of documenting over 15 types of data. These include the speed of the vehicle, when the driver applied the brakes, information regarding the engine throttle, the readiness and deployment of airbags, and if the seat belts were engaged. Most new cars are equipped with an EDR.
The Black Box is a memory chip that is constantly recording information about the car by collecting data from computers around the vehicle, including the front and side airbags, the anti-lock brakes, and the engine computer. When there is a crash, the EDR immediately stores the data from 5 seconds before the crash to 1 second afterward. Once this data is saved, it cannot be erased or altered. In fact, it takes a special reader to plug into the EDR and retrieve data.
While the data was originally designed for safety purposes, it also offers an accurate and fact-based account of crashes that can be critical to proving fault in a motor vehicle accident. In a recent case handled by our law firm, we were able to use black box data to prove that a driver who struck our client was far exceeding the speed limit and therefore was at-fault for serious injuries suffered by our client.
Obtaining Black Box data requires extra work, diligence and expense. But the information that is stored can make the difference between adequate compensation for your injuries and no compensation at all.
If you or a loved one were in a motor vehicle accident, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation on your case.