Auto Accidents and “Black Boxes”

The “black box” is the moniker given to Event Data Recorders. These data recorders gather valuable information that can help piece together incidents involving accidents and crashes. The black box is used for reconstructing accidents to find fault, but the information obtained from a black box can also help safety officials make the necessary changes in regulations to make the public safe. The data can help manufacturers make safer equipment too.

Traditionally, black boxes are used on airplanes. After a crash, officials work diligently to find the box to reconstruct the incident when there is not enough information or the sequence of events is uncertain. When planes crash, there is usually a loss of radio contact so the incident would remain a mystery without the black box.

In recent years, the concept has made its way into vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would like to make it mandatory for automakers to install a black box in all new cars and light trucks. Usually when there’s an auto accident, the events are clear – there is either an independent witness that has seen the incident and can testify to the exact situation, or the driver who was reckless admits to being responsible. In some cases, usually involving fatalities, the events aren’t quite as clear cut. The vehicles can be so mangled that it can be hard for investigators to pinpoint the inciting incident.

The black box records a variety of information like the speed of the vehicle, whether the driver’s seat belt was used and whether the driver used his or her brakes before the accident. This can be invaluable to investigators when reconstructing the accident. It can also help an auto accident attorney prepare valuable information for a case against a negligent driver who is trying to shift blame to the victim.

The black box can refute claims from the other driver that the victim was the cause of the accident, and will aid the auto accident attorney in getting what his or her client deserves as compensation for an accident that was not their fault.

The black box is not installed on every vehicle and manufacturers are not required to install one, but the ones that were installed already have had a major impact on trials. The trials with no witnesses or an unreliable witness benefited from the testimony of the black box data. Often, drivers will blame each other for the accident. With this additional evidence, though, there is proof of which driver was responsible for the accident based on the information recorded on the device.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact one of our auto accident attorneys today to schedule a consultation and protect your rights.

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