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The Black Box Report

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses The Black Box Report

Brien Roche

The black box is sometimes called the Electronic Control Module or the Electronic Control Unit.  In addition it may be called the Crash Data Recorder or the Event Data Recorder.  Not all cars and trucks have a black box.  The ones that currently exist may differ as to the type of data they record.  In addition how data is retrieved may differ from each box.  What the black box will issue is a series of numbers which are then given meaning by the appropriate software. Other sources of data are addressed elsewhere on this site.

New Sources

In 2006 rules issued by the U.S. went into effect to assure that this data could be used.  The rules set forth some basics as far as how to format and how to gauge whether the data is true.  In addition the rules allow some judgment to the makers of these devices as to other matters.  These rules apply as of September 1, 2012.

Other Data Devices

Aside from the black box there is in many autos a navigation system. This is different from the black box. It also operates in a manner unlike the black box. It takes snapshots of data at set intervals. If an event occurs between those intervals then nothing is recorded. This is unlike the black box which records in video fashion for a set time. At the end of that set time new data is recorded over the old data. The only thing that causes the data to be preserved is an event such as a crash. Such an event causes the recorder to preserve the data preceding the event. Both systems are able to record speed and direction of travel.

What I have referred to as the black box, which is in the airbag module, probably provides more accurate info as to speed, direction of travel and changes in such. The navigation system is a GPS system which is good at tracking movement but is not accurate to less than twelve feet. As such a lane change or a change in speed may not be recorded by this system.

This dual recording system only applies to cars and not to trucks. The fact this dual recording exists is especially important for attorneys. Not all experts who can retrieve and review data from the black box are able to do so with the navigation system. You should confirm that your expert has the tools and is otherwise able to extract and review data from both systems. For sake of ease I am going to refer to both data systems as the black box in this post.

Aside from the data from manufacturer installed devices there may also be data from phone and other devices on board that record data.

Tension Devices

On most cars there is a device on the seat belt that tightens with a crash to better restrain the person in the seat. When this kicks in it is recorded by the black box. It would kick in before the airbag deploys.

Any injury lawyer handling crashes needs to be informed as to this data. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Black Box Expert

Black box data must be retrieved promptly.  This data may guide you as to how the event took place, how the drivers reacted, the speed of each vehicle and any changes in speed.  If there is an issue about getting this data then it may be best to get a court order to enjoin the other party from making any changes.

The key to getting this data and being able to read it is to select an expert recognized by the manufacturer.  The expert must be aware of the basics of reconstructing injury scenes.  These types of experts can be found by checking with the manufacturer.

Such experts may opine about speed, movement and whether the car or truck was functioning as you would expect.

If you control the car or truck then it is a good idea to give notice to the other party of any attempts to retrieve the data.  In addition having all parties present when you download any data can eliminate future problems.  If the other party or its expert is not present then it is a good idea to record all actions taken to download the data.

Things to Look For In The Black Box Report

Once you have your expert on board, some basic things that you are looking for are:

  • Hard brake events.  A hard brake event is as the term implies, one where there is hard braking.  This is a prelude to the crash.  The ECM contains one second snapshots of the speed, brake, clutch, cruise control, throttle settings and many other bits of data as to movement just before and at the time of the crash.
  • Last stop records.  This type of record is produced when the speed drops below 1.5 miles per hour and remains there for 15 seconds.  In the event of a crash, the car will turn off.  As such that event may be within the last stop record.  The last stop data includes second-by-second reporting.  This is for 105 seconds.  It is also for 15 seconds after the stop.  It records much of the same data as hard braking.
  • Daily engine use.  This data may be present for the days before the crash.
  • Diagnostic records.
  • Trips.  This may be present as part of the data over a defined period of time.
  • Engine settings.  The ECM may reflect how the engine was set for usage.  To confirm this data the ECM clock must be checked.  This is something the expert can do.  This audit trail should show any changes to the ECM.  It should also show who made those changes.
  • Placement of items.  This data may show the placement of the steering wheel, the shift, angle of the car, rollover data, front seat movement and presence of a person in those seats.
  • Other GPS Devices

  • Match with GPS devices.  The data from the ECM needs to be matched with the GPS devices.  These latter devices may locate the vehicle in a certain lane.  These GPS devices include cell phones, cameras or personal movement devices such as fitness watches, etc.
  • Devices to prevent crashes.  These devices may warn drivers of blind spots, objects ahead and lane location.  This data must be obtained.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Black Box Data May be Subject to Challenge

The data from a black box may be subject to challenge on a number of grounds:

  • Any movement in the sensor may distort the data.
  • If the power system has failed, this  may result in false reports.
  • If there are any changes to tires or gears, that may affect the data.
  • Sometimes not all the data is reported.  If so, then that missing data must be found in order to figure out how that impacts data that has not been reported.

The Black Box Report May be Getting Better

Crash data is more and more open.  Many cars on the road record speed, place, gear setting, brake action and the length of any of these events.

Some devices also record road surface data, whether the seat belts are in use and which seats are occupied. However auto makers may install certain design thresholds that do not allow the recorder to activate with certain types of impacts and at certain low speeds. So be prepared to find there is no data to be obtained.

There are a few U.S. laws that govern these issues.  Owners have little control over who may be able to see this data or how it is used.

Another feature is one that would alert owners by text message if their car is moved.  This would allow owners to turn on a camera to record any such contact or movement.

The Data Can Be Stolen

Much of this data can be stolen by third parties.Some experts report that any data from a car or truck which is sent over the net could end up with users that should not have it.  This could include the police.  It could also include people who are simply searching for data.

For more information on black box issues see the pages on Wikipedia and also see the pages on this site about vehicle accidents. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

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The Black Box Report

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses The Black Box Report

Brien Roche

The black box is sometimes called the Electronic Control Module or the Electronic Control Unit.  In addition it may be called the Crash Data Recorder or the Event Data Recorder.  Not all cars and trucks have a black box.  The ones that currently exist may differ as to the type of data they record.  In addition how data is retrieved may differ from each box.  What the black box will issue is a series of numbers which are then given meaning by the appropriate software. Other sources of data are addressed elsewhere on this site.

New Sources

In 2006 rules issued by the U.S. went into effect to assure that this data could be used.  The rules set forth some basics as far as how to format and how to gauge whether the data is true.  In addition the rules allow some judgment to the makers of these devices as to other matters.  These rules apply as of September 1, 2012.

Other Data Devices

Aside from the black box there is in many autos a navigation system. This is different from the black box. It also operates in a manner unlike the black box. It takes snapshots of data at set intervals. If an event occurs between those intervals then nothing is recorded. This is unlike the black box which records in video fashion for a set time. At the end of that set time new data is recorded over the old data. The only thing that causes the data to be preserved is an event such as a crash. Such an event causes the recorder to preserve the data preceding the event. Both systems are able to record speed and direction of travel.

What I have referred to as the black box, which is in the airbag module, probably provides more accurate info as to speed, direction of travel and changes in such. The navigation system is a GPS system which is good at tracking movement but is not accurate to less than twelve feet. As such a lane change or a change in speed may not be recorded by this system.

This dual recording system only applies to cars and not to trucks. The fact this dual recording exists is especially important for attorneys. Not all experts who can retrieve and review data from the black box are able to do so with the navigation system. You should confirm that your expert has the tools and is otherwise able to extract and review data from both systems. For sake of ease I am going to refer to both data systems as the black box in this post.

Aside from the data from manufacturer installed devices there may also be data from phone and other devices on board that record data.

Tension Devices

On most cars there is a device on the seat belt that tightens with a crash to better restrain the person in the seat. When this kicks in it is recorded by the black box. It would kick in before the airbag deploys.

Any injury lawyer handling crashes needs to be informed as to this data. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Black Box Expert

Black box data must be retrieved promptly.  This data may guide you as to how the event took place, how the drivers reacted, the speed of each vehicle and any changes in speed.  If there is an issue about getting this data then it may be best to get a court order to enjoin the other party from making any changes.

The key to getting this data and being able to read it is to select an expert recognized by the manufacturer.  The expert must be aware of the basics of reconstructing injury scenes.  These types of experts can be found by checking with the manufacturer.

Such experts may opine about speed, movement and whether the car or truck was functioning as you would expect.

If you control the car or truck then it is a good idea to give notice to the other party of any attempts to retrieve the data.  In addition having all parties present when you download any data can eliminate future problems.  If the other party or its expert is not present then it is a good idea to record all actions taken to download the data.

Things to Look For In The Black Box Report

Once you have your expert on board, some basic things that you are looking for are:

  • Hard brake events.  A hard brake event is as the term implies, one where there is hard braking.  This is a prelude to the crash.  The ECM contains one second snapshots of the speed, brake, clutch, cruise control, throttle settings and many other bits of data as to movement just before and at the time of the crash.
  • Last stop records.  This type of record is produced when the speed drops below 1.5 miles per hour and remains there for 15 seconds.  In the event of a crash, the car will turn off.  As such that event may be within the last stop record.  The last stop data includes second-by-second reporting.  This is for 105 seconds.  It is also for 15 seconds after the stop.  It records much of the same data as hard braking.
  • Daily engine use.  This data may be present for the days before the crash.
  • Diagnostic records.
  • Trips.  This may be present as part of the data over a defined period of time.
  • Engine settings.  The ECM may reflect how the engine was set for usage.  To confirm this data the ECM clock must be checked.  This is something the expert can do.  This audit trail should show any changes to the ECM.  It should also show who made those changes.
  • Placement of items.  This data may show the placement of the steering wheel, the shift, angle of the car, rollover data, front seat movement and presence of a person in those seats.
  • Other GPS Devices

  • Match with GPS devices.  The data from the ECM needs to be matched with the GPS devices.  These latter devices may locate the vehicle in a certain lane.  These GPS devices include cell phones, cameras or personal movement devices such as fitness watches, etc.
  • Devices to prevent crashes.  These devices may warn drivers of blind spots, objects ahead and lane location.  This data must be obtained.

Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Black Box Data May be Subject to Challenge

The data from a black box may be subject to challenge on a number of grounds:

  • Any movement in the sensor may distort the data.
  • If the power system has failed, this  may result in false reports.
  • If there are any changes to tires or gears, that may affect the data.
  • Sometimes not all the data is reported.  If so, then that missing data must be found in order to figure out how that impacts data that has not been reported.

The Black Box Report May be Getting Better

Crash data is more and more open.  Many cars on the road record speed, place, gear setting, brake action and the length of any of these events.

Some devices also record road surface data, whether the seat belts are in use and which seats are occupied. However auto makers may install certain design thresholds that do not allow the recorder to activate with certain types of impacts and at certain low speeds. So be prepared to find there is no data to be obtained.

There are a few U.S. laws that govern these issues.  Owners have little control over who may be able to see this data or how it is used.

Another feature is one that would alert owners by text message if their car is moved.  This would allow owners to turn on a camera to record any such contact or movement.

The Data Can Be Stolen

Much of this data can be stolen by third parties.Some experts report that any data from a car or truck which is sent over the net could end up with users that should not have it.  This could include the police.  It could also include people who are simply searching for data.

For more information on black box issues see the pages on Wikipedia and also see the pages on this site about vehicle accidents. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation