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The Black Box Can Help Determine Fault

Posted on Jun 12, 2014

Did you know that your vehicle could have a black box? Yes, just like airplanes, automobiles are often equipped with black boxes that can help investigators understand what happened during an accident.

Black boxes in vehicles record speed, if airbags deploy during a crash, and if those in the vehicle were wearing their seat belts. They are not supposed to record voices or locations as the boxes in the airplanes do.

According to Schmidt Kramer York car crash attorney Scott Cooper, the State Superior Court ruled that in a homicide by vehicle case, the Commonwealth can use the speed from the black box as part of its charges to convict someone.

“The recorder and data, it cuts both ways,” said Cooper. “It can be used to exonerate someone in some circumstances. So you really need to look at what the results are.”

Only 14 states have laws that say who owns the black box—Pennsylvania is not one of them. What this means for you is that the police can take the box without a search warrant if they impound your vehicle.

“There’s privacy concerns, because people are always concerned about big brother watching,” said Cooper. “With admissibility and discovery of the data, and how it’s used, it’s really a balance that has to be struck between safety and privacy concerns.”

Since 2011, vehicle manufacturers have been obligated to tell consumers if their vehicles contain an “event data recorder” in the owner’s manual. By September, all new vehicles will be made with black boxes inside of them.

Police cannot take the black boxes for traffic stops, only for crash investigations.

If you’ve been involved in a York car crash, contact a Harrisburg personal injury lawyer from the law offices of Schmidt Kramer. We may be able to help you get the compensation you are entitled to.

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