In the very near future, if the Department of Transportation gets its way, all new vehicles may be required to have “black boxes” much like the ones used in airplanes. These devices record and collect data related to the operation of the motor vehicle. This data can then be accessed and analyzed in the event of a car accident.
As explained in this Detroit News article, many newer vehicles already have black boxes installed:
Most automobiles already have the devices. NHTSA estimated that about 64 percent of 2005 model passenger vehicles had them; many major automakers already include black boxes on all of their vehicles, including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Co.
The problem right now is that not all cars have these devices installed and even those cars that do collect different types of data, but, as explained in the article, this will change in just a few years:
A rule that takes effect in the 2013 model year standardizes the information EDRs collect and makes retrieving the data easier. Devices must record 15 data elements, including vehicle deceleration, in specific formats.
This will be an important development, since black boxes can provide invaluable information about the cause of a car accident. If all cars have these devices and collect the same types of data, then the information will be even more accessible and may very well prove to be of great value to car accident lawyers when seeking to recover for injuries on behalf of a client injured in an automobile accident.