Many modern cars have an event data recorder (EDR), which many people refer to as the black box. The EDR records technical vehicle and occupant information in the last few seconds before and after a crash. As such, the EDR is a useful tool for investigating auto accidents.
Different EDRs capture different information, but some of the information they capture is common. For example, a car's EDR may record:
- The car's speed just before the crash
- The acceleration or deceleration of the car at the time of the crash
- Any braking activity that the car experienced just before the crash
- Whether the driver was using a seatbelt
- Whether the airbag deployed
Your car's manufacturer or auto specialists can tell you more about the nature of data in a specific EDR.
Usage in Auto Accident Cases
As you can see, the EDR can record a variety of data, most of which can be useful in an auto accident investigation. For example:
- Speed data can tell whether a motorist was breaking the law by driving over the speed limit
- Acceleration/deceleration or braking data can reveal whether a driver tried to avoid a crash
- Data on airbag deployment can reveal whether a car's safety parameters is defective
- Data on seatbelt use can help with the seatbelt defense
All these are crucial issues that can help determine liability. Some of them, such as the use of a seatbelt, also affect comparative or contributory negligence.
Ownership and Accessibility of EDR Data
The owner of the car owns the EDR data. However, legal provisions allow third-party accessibility of the data under certain circumstances. For example, the law allows others to access the data if:
- A court orders accessibility of the data
- The owner of the car (and hence data) consents to the aces
- Traffic safety researchers need the data for help with their work
- The government is investigating an auto accident
The best way to get the data is to convince the other party to give up the EDR data willingly. Unfortunately, auto accident defendants might not be willing to give up incriminating evidence. In such a case, you need to convince the court that the EDR data is material to your case. That way, the court can compel the party concerned to release the data.
EDR data is just one of the various forms of evidence you can use in your auto accident case. Contact a car accident lawyer to help you gather and present all the evidence you need to win your case.