What is a black box, and does my car have one?
Published on:June 11, 2022

Event data recorders like a black box offer detailed insight into what may have triggered an auto-accident. It can be very beneficial for your lawyer to prove the at-fault driver’s negligence.

Also, law enforcement will be interested in knowing the content of the black box, whether to classify the incident as an accident, and who to hold responsible. On the other hand, insurance companies will need a peek too before paying out any claims.

Lastly, you or your loved ones will always want to understand what went wrong to avoid something similar from happening in the future. To understand the nature of an accident, the black box was invented.

This technology is also equipped on numerous modern vehicles, planes, ships, and of course, your cars. However, not all vehicles come with a black box. Instead, only those manufactured since 2013 may come equipped with a black box.

What is a black box?

The black box was designed to work closely with the airbag control module (ACM), which is a system that controls when and how the airbag deploys. For this purpose, the black box will record information that could help determine the cause of the accident, such as how fast the car was moving, whether the airbag was functioning correctly, and when it was deployed to the impact.

However, black boxes must follow strict regulations by governing bodies like National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States. Here is the information black boxes can record:

  • Changes in forwarding crash acceleration
  • The speed the vehicle was traveling 
  • How far the accelerator was pushed down
  • If the brakes were engaged
  • If the driver was wearing a seatbelt
  • If the airbag engaged 
  • The total number of collisions, etc.

Please note that the black box can only record a few seconds of information before the crash and does not include audio or video information. However, the data it records is beneficial to the investigations or analysis after the incident.

Retrieving information from a black box

You probably have never seen your car’s black box or know where it’s located. While it’s not impossible to identify and access, it can be quite a challenge without experience and the necessary equipment.

While a black box could help fill in the blanks after an accident, the data can be misused. In case of an accident, law enforcement is often the first group to show interest in your car’s black box. However, they must obtain a search warrant to retrieve and access the information on the black box.

When involved in a car accident, the best thing you can do is to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. Since information on the black box can be used against you, depending on the nature of the accident. So go ahead and give us a call or fill out our contact form to