Next September the federal government will require automakers to install event-data recorders (EDRs) in all new cars and passenger trucks. Many vehicles already have these “black boxes.”
Long synonomous with plane crash investigations, they already provide those injured in an auto or truck crash the opportunity to bolster their case with hard, indisputable evidence of another driver’s negligence, reckless behavior, or even intoxication. Knowing exactly how fast a vehicle was driving just before a crash is critical. Without EDRs, the court system must rely on the unreliable testimony of drivers, or accident reconstruction experts, who can be expensive.
I’ve had success using EDRs to obtain compensation for my clients. For example, I was able to recover a $5.5 million settlement when I showed that a gasoline tanker that hit a man and wife was traveling 66 miles an hour in a construction zone in Burleson on I-35.
And I obtained another favorable settlement at a pre-trial mediation last year when I used data to prove that an 18 wheeler driver never even applied his brakes until one second before he crashed into a young woman at a high rate of speed on I-30.
The black boxes gather useful data like speed, braking, steering, crash forces and seat belt usage, and under the new law will capture even more information.
But they are hardly perfect. The data is sometimes faulty due to electrical surges, fault codes, timing, and other problems. And the data can be difficult to obtain. Safety regulators should insure that controls are added to prevent inaccurate information from being used or kept from plaintiff attorneys.
The use of EDRs furthermore invades a driver’s privacy. Texas doesn’t have any laws that regulate the use of data or who owns the data. I urge our state representatives meeting in Austin to protect drivers from abuse.
If you or someone you love in North Texas has been injured in an accident, contact a Dallas Fort Worth personal injury attorney. A good accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.