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Your Car’s Black Box, and Ways It Can Help In an Accident

planes black box

Black boxes in airplanes, known formally as event data recorders, often prove invaluable in helping investigators determine what events led up to a plane crashing. What you may not have realized is that event data recorders aren’t only installed in airplanes—there’s a very good chance that one is installed in the car you drive every day, and that it could offer useful information to you and your attorneys in the event of an accident.

Event data recorders were introduced along with the first-ever airbags installed in vehicles in the 1970s. The devices would record whether or not an airbag functioned properly in the event of a crash. Manufacturers began using the devices to record additional mechanical information as well, by installing sensors throughout the vehicle to measure items such as engine efficiency, brake functioning, and seat belt usage. The devices are now installed in almost 100% of new cars. As soon as the ignition is started, the recorder begins to run, measuring and recording over data every five seconds. If the recorder senses that an airbag is deployed or nearly deployed, the recorder will permanently retain the data from five seconds before that impact, as well as the moments afterward. Event data recorders are required to measure at least 15 different forms of data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including brake usage and function, speed and acceleration, seat belt use, airbag deployment, and whether additional collisions occurred after the collision triggering the recording.

Information from event data recorders can provide a great deal of valuable information showing responsibility for a crash, or even criminal conduct. You may remember an incident in 2011 when an accident involving a member of the Massachusetts state government made national news. While then-lieutenant governor Timothy Murray claimed that, prior to the accident totaling his state-issued vehicle, he was traveling the speed limit and wearing his seat belt, evidence from the car’s event data recorder showed that Murray was driving 100 mph and not wearing a seatbelt. Similarly, your attorney can use information from an event data recorder to show that the other driver in a crash was driving over the speed limit when the accident occurred, or that the driver did not apply their brakes before hitting you, indicating that they may have been distracted, intoxicated, or asleep.

If you have been in a car accident and need a knowledgeable, experienced Alabama attorney to handle your claims, contact Montgomery personal injury law firm McPhillips Shinbaum for a free consultation, at 866-224-8664.