Car Black Boxes – The Impact Your Car’s Onboard Computer

Over 90% of cars in the United States have a device called an event data recorder (EDR) that can record data regarding a driver’s driving habits. These devices record consistent statistical data regarding how a vehicle is being driven. It records your speed, breaking, use of signals, acceleration, and it can even record how many people you have in the car with you.  Beyond that the device is associated with the car’s safety system.  It assists the car’s onboard systems to decide whether to deploy airbags and other safety information. But, in recent years, the primary use of this device has been in accident investigation and the connected lawsuits.

This device is a critical aspect of a personal injury investigation following a car accident.  Not only can the device detail what happened in the time before and after a crash, but it can also detail the driver’s tendencies. And, though tendencies do not prove guilt, it can help to establish a case that a driver was reckless. If that tendency was paired with a statistics around the crash, it could severely harm an individual’s chances of success.

These devices are both comforting and concerning.  They’re comforting in that they provide objective data in the event of a crash. Objective data can sometimes be very scarce after an accident and this data could be the difference in a case.

However, the EDR also brings up privacy concerns.  A majority of drivers are likely unaware of the existence of the device in their car.  You don’t have to wear a tin-foil hat to be concerned that all of your driving tendencies are being recorded.  Admittedly a tin-foil hat wouldn’t help your argument. But, enough concerns remain that there have been calls to allow people to have their EDRs turned off.

Hopefully, knowledge of this device will become more widely known and it will influence a new trend in safe driving.  But, until that glorious day, consider slowing down.