Do Cars Have Black Boxes? By Greg Burton on June 18, 2021

a muddy SUV Black boxes are a well-known investigation tool for airplane crashes but did you know there may be a black box in your car? Black boxes, or event data recorders (EDRs), are devices that track vehicle data and are found in nearly all modern passenger vehicles. 

Car accident lawyers Randy Akin and Greg Burton help clients involved in car accidents determine whether accident data from black boxes can be used to support liability claims. If you have been in a car accident and wonder if the involved cars have black boxes, our Longview, TX, attorneys can help. 

Most Modern Cars Have Black Boxes

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) sought to make EDRs mandatory in all new cars manufactured after 2012. The NHTSA later announced that they were no longer seeking to make EDRs mandatory because nearly all car manufacturers were already including EDRs in their new vehicles. 

Does My Car Have a Black Box?

If your car was manufactured in 2012 or more recently it is almost certain to have an EDR. Even cars built as far back as 2005 are likely to have a black box. 

To find out whether a vehicle is equipped with an EDR you can begin by checking the owner’s manual. Online resources are also available to search for lists of vehicles with EDRs. If after checking the owner’s manual and EDR vehicle lists you’re uncertain whether your vehicle has an EDR, a crash data specialist can provide a definitive answer. 

What Information Is Recorded by EDRs?

EDRs record different data depending on the vehicle type and manufacturer. At this point, EDRs do not record video or audio and only store seconds of data. The data are constantly overwritten and only records in the event of an accident.  

Manufacturers may program their EDR devices to store data from the seconds leading up to a crash as well as data during and after the crash. Data that may be recorded include: 

  • Driver inputs
  • Vehicle speed
  • Acceleration
  • Use of brakes
  • Airbag deployment 

How Is the Information from Black Boxes Used?

EDRs were designed to help make driving and vehicles safer by collecting accident data. The intent of storing and tracking this data is to identify ways to improve safety while driving.

Although the data from EDRs are still used for enhancing vehicle safety, law enforcement and investigators also use the information to piece together an accident as well as prove fault. 

Data Must Be Lawfully Attained

It’s important that data taken from an EDR and presented in a Longview court were obtained lawfully. Police may need a warrant or permission from the vehicle’s owner to access the data from the EDR. 

A warrant or permission from the vehicle’s owner may not be required if there was probable cause or when exigent circumstances exist. An attorney can review the details around how data from an EDR were obtained and determine whether it should or shouldn’t be admissible in court. 

Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys 

If you live in Longview and have been involved in a car accident, call (903) 297-8929 to schedule a consultation with one of our car accident attorneys and learn more about your legal options.

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Randy Akin and Greg Burton

G.R. Akin, P.C.

Randy Akin and Greg Burton have more than 35 years of combined experience. They are affiliated with several professional associations, including:

  • Texas Bar Foundation
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Gregg County Bar Association

Contact us online to ask a question or call us at (903) 297-8929.

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