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What Can You Learn from the Event Data Recorder in Your Car?

data black box

After a plane crashes, what’s the one piece of the plane that rescue missions try to find first? The plane’s “black box,” formally known as the event data recorder. While you’ve likely heard of the black box installed in all planes, did you know that nearly all automobiles have similar devices installed? Read on to learn a bit more about your car’s event data recorder, and how it can benefit you in the event of an accident.

Event Data Recorders were developed in the 1970s and initially were used to store information relating to the safety and functioning of the first-ever air bags. Car manufacturers began to realize the potential to record other information relating to safety, and so began to link the devices to a growing number of sensors throughout the car. By 2005, over half of all new cars came with an event data recorder installed, and by 2013, that number had risen to approximately 96%. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now requires that the devices record at least 15 different data points about the cars being monitored, including airbag deployment, use of seatbelts, the car’s speed, whether or not the brakes were being applied, and the force of any impact. Manufacturers are permitted to record additional data points and are not required to disclose each form of data being recorded. Event data recorders became a news item in 2011 when the then-lieutenant governor of Massachusetts Timothy Murray was involved in a crash of a government-issued vehicle. While Murray had claimed that he was not speeding when the crash occurred and had been wearing his seatbelt, examination of the event data recorder revealed that he was not buckled in and had been driving the car at over 100 miles per hour at the time of the accident.

The event data recorder begins to run as soon as the ignition starts the car’s engine. The recorder will constantly read sensors installed under seats, on the engine, the car’s airbags, brakes, and wheels, as well as other locations throughout the vehicle, continuously taping over the data each five seconds. When the car has a sudden impact, or the airbags are deployed or nearly deployed, the event data recorder then permanently stores the information it recorded in the five seconds prior to, during, and after the impact. If you’re in a crash where the causes of the accident are in dispute, or another driver claims you were speeding, swerving, or otherwise driving unsafely, a skilled expert can extract the data on the recorder to show more detail on exactly what occurred prior to and during the crash.

If you have been in an accident in New Jersey or New York and need skilled personal injury representation, contact the Law Offices of Andrew Jacobs for a consultation, at 973-532-9681.

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