Black Boxes Help Investigators Determine Kentucky Car Accident Causes – Kentucky Injury Law Blog

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Black Boxes Help Investigators Determine Kentucky Car Accident Causes

Most people are aware of the event data recorder devices, or “black boxes,” that are found in airplanes. They frequently provide clues to what may have gone wrong in a plane crash. However, many people do not know that this type of device is also found on many automobiles, particularly those manufactured more recently. These black boxes are constantly processing information regarding the operation of the vehicles the entire time they are running. If an airbag deploys, the information 15 seconds prior to deployment is saved.

This 15-second snippet of information can be very helpful in determining what happened just before and at the time of a car accident. The data recorded includes the rate of speed, whether the accelerator or brake was being applied, the steering direction, and if the seatbelts were in use. Because these data recording devices were originally installed in vehicles as a way for manufacturers to track their performance and diagnose any issues, some manufacturers claim they own the recorded data. However, the data can often be obtained through legal channels to be interpreted by a qualified forensic accident reconstructionist.

This type of information was used in a Louisville, Kentucky wrongful death case that stemmed from a car accident in 2011. Bryan Lee was test-driving a new Dodge Challenger when he ran into a Mercury Sable, killing both passengers on impact. After the accident, Mr. Lee stated that he was only going 60 mph in the 45 mph zone. However, data from the black box showed that the car had reached 102 mph just before the accident and hit the victims’ car at 86 mph.

Another recent case involved Lt. Governor Timothy Murray from Massachusetts. After totaling a government-owned vehicle at 5 a.m. in November, he passed a sobriety test and the police concluded the accident was caused by ice on the roads. When people continued to question him about the accident, Mr. Murray had the data pulled from the black box. Not only did it show that he was driving 10 miles over the speed limit initially, but it also showed that he pushed the accelerator and was traveling 106 mph when the accident occurred. Mr. Murray then changed his story and said he must have fallen asleep at the wheel. He was charged with speeding and not wearing a seat belt, another fact that the black box brought to light.

Many people dislike the thought of having a device like this in their vehicle, recording their every move while they are driving. Perhaps as a result of this sentiment, car manufacturers are now required to state whether or not the vehicle has an event data recorder. For those individuals who obey the traffic laws and drive safely, having a record of how they were operating a vehicle should never end up being an issue. However, when someone is killed in an accident through no fault of their own, and there are no witnesses, a black box can serve as a witness for the deceased.

For more information on what type of data are stored in an event data recorder, how it can be used in an accident investigation, or for any other information pertaining to a car or truck accident, please contact a Kentucky accident attorney at Clay Frederick & Adams.


How this totaled car’s black box caught a politician speeding;; Justin Hyde; January 3, 2012

Trial Begins For Man Charged In Test Drive Crash;; August 24, 2011