The Use of Black Box Data in Car Accident Proceedings

In the last few years, there has been a new technological trend that will revolutionize the way in which parties involved in civil proceedings will be able to litigate personal injuries related to motor vehicle accidents. The new technology, known as the “black box” and has been utilized for years in the aviation industry, is being installed in newly manufactured motor vehicles in the United States. It is estimated that about 96 percent of these new vehicles have the technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had proposed legislation to have the black boxes mandatorily installed in all new vehicles, but had never finalized that legislation because the majority of automakers have installed the boxes voluntarily.

What Are Black Boxes and How Do They Work?

The black box estimates and creates a record and log of your driving history. It tests for speed, acceleration, braking, GPS, and the use of seatbelts in the event of a collision. The Event Data Recorders (EDRs) were originally installed in cars so that car companies could assess the way in which the cars drove and to improve on any quirks or failures that the systems might have. However, the significance of the data, with regards to evidence collection in criminal and civil cases, has increased dramatically, especially as it became apparent that more and more information could be collected by the black boxes.

Issues Surrounding the Black Box

The black boxes shed light on not only consumer privacy issues, but also the fact that the black box is still not reliable for many reasons. With regards to privacy concerns, it is obvious that there are many drivers who would not want this data to be used against them in a legal proceeding or by their car insurance company.

 Another increasing worry is the reliability of the data; if the data acquired right before an accident was incorrect, negligent drivers may not be attributed to the entirety of the damages or fault that they actually caused. This could limit recovery for the injured party.

There is also a lack of uniformity and standardization of the black boxes and how the information is synthesized. The lack of uniformity makes it difficult for police authorities and crash investigators to truly understand the data produced by the black box, leading to further errors in the investigation.

Regulation of the Black Boxes Nationwide

With the continued and increasing use of the black boxes, states have attempted to regulate their use and the use of their data. For example, current regulations require that the driver be put on notice that a black box has been installed within their vehicle. This notice is usually printed within the manual of the car, but the majority of car owners may not fully read the manual and not be aware that they are being recorded. There is also a worry about the use of this data not only in legal proceedings but also insurance companies could gain access to this data and increase the driver’s premiums for “risky habits.”

Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Washington, DC who will be able to provide you with legal assistance and guidance. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

Thanks to Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and black box data in car accidents.