When a plane crashes, investigators rely on
its “black box” for data to see what happened. But when a car
crashes, you have to rely on witnesses and drivers to recreate the
accident. What if your car had a black box? Actually, yours might have
one already. There are millions of cars on the road with black boxes,
and what they know could be used against you in an insurance claim, and
a court of law.
A black box is actually a module that controls the air bags on your car.
It knows when to deploy the air bags because it is hooked into your
car's computer. It knows how fast you are going, how quickly you
stopped, whether your seat belt was on, and lots of other information.
In many cases, it even stores the last few seconds of that information
that happened right before you crashed.
There is software available now that allows someone to hook right up and
download all of that data off of this black box. It is mostly on General
Motors cars right now, but it has been expanding every year. As this
technology gets better, this information is going to be used in court
and for insurance claims even more. Some states are already working on
laws to restrict who can use the information.
So what's the big deal? Well, up until now if you were in a crash it was
your word against the other driver. But a “black box” is a powerful
witness that can be used in court. For example, there was a case in
where a driver said he was doing 60 mph when he ran into another car,
killing two young girls. The black box showed that he was actually going
114 mph before the fatal crash! That information was used to convict him
of motor vehicle homicide.
But whose information is on the black box? Is it yours, because you own
the car? Can the other person's insurance company or attorney legally
take this information off of your car? These are the types of questions
that need to be addressed in the near future, because there are lawyers
and insurance adjusters that would love to get their hands on YOUR
The Auto Guy – Jim Champion
Charlie Graham Body and Service
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