What is a Black Box and Does My Car Have One

You find yourself getting in a wreck one day on your way to work. You were not at fault for the wreck but you are having a hard time proving this fact to be true. This is especially true in the eyes of the local police department.

You aren't sure how you can prove the facts of the case since the police are refusing to help you. Your lawyer asks if your car has a black box but you aren't sure what that is. You decide to look into the matter yourself. Let's take a closer look at what a black box is and whether your car has one.

What is a Black Box?

The black box started in commercial airplanes, which doubles as a flight recorder. The casing of the black box in airplanes is actually a bright orange.

There is a black box records the information from the flight computers and a second black box records audio from the cockpit area along with other sounds inside the plane. When the airplane is involved in a crash, the black box can help those investigating the wreck figure out what happened.

A black box is used by vehicle manufacturers to help them learn how their cars perform in car wrecks. A black box being in vehicles is not a new thing. The practice started in 1994 with cars from Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, and Pontiac.

Does your car have a black box, you ask? The Harris Technical site lists the year, make, and model of nearly every car that has a black box. You can check the manual of your car as well. If you are at a dealer to purchase a vehicle, the dealer is required to tell you if it has a black box.

What Does it Record?

When the black boxes first came out, all it recorded was whether the airbags were deployed. The recording and sensor technologies have become smaller and more powerful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has required every new black box must track at least 15 variables.

The variables include the speed of the vehicle, throttle position, airbag deployment times, if the brakes were applied, if the vehicle occupants were wearing seatbelts, the speed of the engine, steering angles, and even more.

The manufacturers can add up to 30 additional data points if they want but must exclude GPS location, video, and audio. The black box only stores information for 20 seconds around the crash itself.

Who can Pull this Data?

If you want the information yourself, it requires professional training and a Crash Data Retrieval system that costs up to $2,000. It can actually cost up to $20,000 with any accessories you might add while training.

The system plugs into the on-board diagnostics port under the dashboard on the driver's side and transfers the information to a special computer program. The car manufacturers have the equipment needed to get the information from the black box.

Law enforcement and the NHTSA also have the resources to get the black box's information. The Ricci Law Firm will often hire an accident reconstructionist for their clients to get the information from their client’s black boxes as well as the black boxes of the other cars involved in the wrecks.

Greenville and Washington, NC Auto Accident Attorneys

I’m Brian Ricci, a Car Accident Lawyer serving Greenville, NC and the surrounding areas. If you have suffered a personal injury due to a car crash, please call me anytime at (252) 752-7785 or (800) 387-6406 for free, friendly advice. The call is free and there is no obligation to you.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Take a look at the results our Greenville, NC injury attorneys have obtained on our Past Verdicts and Settlements page and our many Testimonials.

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