Does a car have a black box?


New standards related to black box units on vehicles which record data during events such as crashes have been outlined by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.    Prior to September 1, 2012 auto manufacturers created their own standards for black boxes.  This resulted in a wide variety of black box systems and little uniformity.

Each manufacturer had black box systems which collected different data points.  Similarly problematic, technicians attempting to access the data were forced to retrieve it by different methods.  The new black box standards set forth by NTHSA have introduced a more uniform approach.The agency published standards on August 5th 2011 which specify the data that must be collected. The new standards require the data collected to include the accelerator position at the time of the crash, the vehicle roll angle, the steering wheel angle and the rpm of the engine.  Also, the methods to retrieve the data will be uniform across manufacturers.

Black box data is important to motor vehicle safety.  It allows manufactures to analyze vehicle crash performance and driver actions under real crash circumstances.  This data provides critical information which will lead to safer vehicles.  Additionally, the data can prove to be extremely informative with regard to how or why a crash took place.  The black box information may be accessible to law enforcement, insurance companies and automakers, and each state has specific regulations.Vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2012 that have black boxes must follow the new standards set by the NHTSA. At Donaldson & Weston, our attorneys always utilize premiere experts to download and interpret the black box data in order to reconstruct crash dynamics to demonstrate liability in significant personal injury cases.  The data can be crucial evidence which may not otherwise be available through witnesses. Knowing when and how to gather black box information can under some circumstances make or break a case.