Should Black Boxes Be Required in Cars?

Most people have heard of the black boxes that are used in airplanes, but most vehicles are also equipped with similar event data recorders and, as of September 1, 2014, they will be required in all new vehicles. Like the black boxes in airplanes, the black boxes in cars are used to record certain actions taken by the driver during the car’s operation. But unlike airplane black boxes, which record audio and technical information throughout the duration of the flight, a car’s black box only records a certain amount of data leading up to an event, such as an auto accident.

The vast majority of vehicles already have automotive data records, or “black boxes,” but as of September 1, 2014, all new cars and trucks will be required to be equipped with an automotive data recorders to help the police, government, and insurance companies determine the circumstances and conditions leading up to an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes that the black boxes are a valuable safety feature. NHTSA administrator David L. Strickland said in a statement that the boxes “provide critical safety information that might not otherwise be available to N.H.T.S.A. to evaluate what happened during a crash — and what future steps could be taken to save lives and prevent injuries.”

In most states, including Illinois, the information contained on black boxes has been deemed admissible in court. In order to be admissible, the data must be timely preserved, however. Because a vehicle’s event data recorder only records information leading up to the crash, if the car is operated after a collision, crash data may be overwritten.

According to the New York Times, although black boxes have been used by car companies to assess the performance of their vehicles for some time now, “data stored in the devices is increasingly being used to identify safety problems in cars and as evidence in traffic accidents and criminal cases.” As a result, the data inside the boxes has raised privacy concerns, including questions about who owns the information, what the information can be used for, and whether the information is reliable.

Although some consumer advocates fear that the use of automotive data recorders provides too much access to private information, the information is often used to corroborate information provided by expert witnesses regarding speed, braking, airbag deployment, seatbelt use, and other pertinent accident reconstruction information.

Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer

Auto accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury accidents, and the Chicago auto accident lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C. are dedicated to helping Chicago motorists obtain full and fair financial recovery for their injuries and damages. To do so, we will conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the auto accident, including consulting with appropriate expert witnesses and reviewing information on the vehicles’ event data recorders.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, do not hesitate to contact us at (312) 477-2500 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our Chicago auto accident lawyers.