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Vehicle “Black Boxes” May Provide Additional Information in Accidents

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on October 19, 2011

Many people are familiar with the “black box” in airplanes that records information about the plane’s speed, direction, and other information that can help investigators determined what happened in case of a crash. However, many passenger cars, trucks, and vans are now being made with a similar “black box” that may someday help investigators unravel what happened in a car crash as well.

Known as event data recorders, or EDRs for short, vehicle “black boxes” are already available in 65 to 90 percent of vehicles manufactured during or after 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). EDRs are expected to become standard on all vehicles created in model year 2011 or later, when federal regulations will also require automakers to explain to vehicle owners that their vehicle contains an EDR and where the device is. Most new cars include this information in the owners’ manual. The EDR itself is frequently installed under the driver’s seat with other computerized safety components, such as the module that operates the air bags.

Currently, EDR information can only be used by insurers with the consent of the vehicle’s owner, but some insurance policies require policy holders to give consent when they accept the policy. Washington is one of only seven states that prohibit insurers from requiring a vehicle owner to consent to EDR information use in order to receive a car insurance policy. In the future, the “black box” information may become key in car accident investigations and even court cases.

When an accident occurs, determining what happened and whether you’re receiving all the benefits your insurance policy is supposed to pay can be overwhelming. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our skilled Washington auto accident lawyers focus on helping accident survivors and their families get the compensation they need to heal after an accident. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (888) 228-3860.

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