Do Cars Have Black Boxes? By Kelly Chanfrau, Esq. on May 28, 2021

car accidentMost people are familiar with black boxes and their use in the investigation of airplane crashes. However, many drivers are not aware that it is highly likely their personal vehicle has a black box as well. Technically known as an event data recorder, or EDR, these small computers record information that can be valuable in the recreation of a car accident.

Car accident lawyers from Chanfrau & Chanfrau can help their clients from Daytona Beach, FL, Palm Coast, FL, and surrounding areas determine if their vehicle has a black box. And if the device is present, whether investigators can use it to collect data that would assist in proving accident liability.

How Do I Know If My Car Has a Black Box?

Since many people are not aware that black boxes can be found in personal vehicles, it is often unlikely that a driver will know if their own car has a black box. If someone drives a vehicle that was made in 2005 or after, it is likely that there is some type of black box device in place, though its capabilities may be limited. 

In 2014 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended making EDRs mandatory in newly manufactured vehicles. While the devices never became federally required, most manufacturers began installing EDRs in their vehicles voluntarily. So, if a person’s vehicle was manufactured after 2014, there is probably a black box in place.

The easiest way to determine for sure if your vehicle has a black box is to check the owner’s manual. Some companies also keep information online regarding which makes and models of their vehicles have EDRs. If the information cannot be found, a crash data specialist can determine if a black box exists.

What Does a Black Box Record?

The EDRs in personal vehicles are a lot different than those in airplanes. For one, a car’s black box does not record data the entire time a car is operating. Instead, the device is triggered by an accident. It provides data that lets accident investigators determine what was happening seconds before the crash, during the crash, and just after. Unlike a black box on an airplane, a vehicle EDR also does not record any audio, nor video. Instead, a vehicle’s EDR may record:

  • Changes in speed
  • Which pedals were applied prior to and during the crash
  • Seatbelt use
  • Whether the airbag deployed correctly

Using Black Box Data for Accident Re-creation

A vehicle’s black box can provide data that is essential to accident re-creation, but these devices are rarely relied on in civil cases. Collecting black box data is complex, and there is a chain of custody the device must go through. For black box data to be considered credible evidence, it must be given directly to a crash reconstruction expert. They run the device through a program that translates collected data. Because of the complexities surrounding black box data, these devices are usually only used in criminal cases, or when proving accident liability is particularly difficult.

Contact the Lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau

If you have been injured in an accident, the lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau can help you collect the financial compensation you may be due for damages. To discuss the details of your accident with our lawyers, send us a message online, or call (386) 258-7313 to schedule a personal consultation at our Daytona Beach law firm.

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Attorneys at Chanfrau & Chanfrau

Chanfrau & Chanfrau

Chanfrau & Chanfrau has been serving Floridians in Daytona Beach and the surrounding areas since 1976. With three attorneys and two locations, we have the resources to help you after an accident or injury. We are proud of our many achievements, including inclusion in:

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For more information about our legal services, contact our firm online or call (386) 258-7313 today.

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