Vehicle Black Box Data: How is the Data Used in Accidents?
Thanks to advanced technology, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for drivers to lie to avoid responsibility for an accident, because it’s becoming easier for accident investigators and lawyers for accident victims to piece together the elements of that accident, and figure out what led to it.
For example, when a prominent Massachusetts politician crashed his government-issued vehicle in 2011, he told police that he was not speeding, and that he was wearing his seat belt. Investigators later found out that neither of those claims was true. They discovered the real information when they checked the vehicle’s Electronic Control Module, or black box, which revealed that he was driving more than 100 miles per hour without a seat belt at the time of the accident. He later admitted he had fallen asleep.
Many people may not realize it, but virtually all cars sold in the United States are equipped with a black box. These modules store a lot of data, and are especially useful in determining what a driver was doing in the moments leading up to a crash. Virtually every truck licensed in the state of Texas has one of these boxes, and they have been extremely useful for investigators.
Vehicle manufacturers have been using these boxes for years to compile performance data on the vehicles they make. But state and federal agencies and insurance companies have increasingly been accessing the data, in order to identify potential vehicle safety problems, and to gather traffic accident evidence for civil and criminal cases. As federal and state regulators, and law enforcement and insurance investigators see it, the data in those boxes has become a very useful tool to investigate accidents and figure out what happened.
But the sheer volume and scope of data contained in the black boxes has raised the hackles of some privacy and consumer advocates, and raised a number of questions about who owns the data and what the information can be used for. Some have also questioned the reliability of the data. Many consumer advocates are worried because there is little government guidance in how data can be used.
Currently 14 states have passed laws designating that the data belongs to the vehicle owner, but that law enforcement officials and civil litigants can get a court order to gain access to black boxes. That means, in those states lawyers may subpoena the data for a civil lawsuit. But time is of the essence. While these black boxes include a lot of data that can help you prove your case, they generally only store the information for 30 days.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in any type of vehicle accident, call the accident lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible to protect your rights, and to gain access to the information in that black box as quickly as possible.