Black boxes in cars help crash investigations

The data from the black box isn't useful just for investigators, but family of crash victims too

(CNN) – It may be in your car or truck and you may not even know it. It’s called the “event data recorder”, similar to a plane’s black box.

“This is the brain of the car all the safety devices within the car itself.”

It’s a piece of the puzzle 5 to 25 seconds leading up to a crash.

“It could the steering, the breaking, the sudden movement of the vehicle so that helps the investigation determined what happened in the crash.”

Pace says these devices have been around since the 70’s. In 1999 they starting recording pre-crash data and it was just last fall that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required all new cars have them.

“Your acceleration, speed, braking. That’s the sort of thing these devices can capture and aid in the investigation.”

But here’s what they don’t do: “This does not record the location. It does not record the sounds inside the vehicle where the passengers were. These are just a tool and aid in the investigation and final outcome of the crash.”

Not just anyone can access the data. “They’re not easily accessible by individuals without the proper tools.”

Those proper tools cost thousands of dollars; both the Springfield Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol have them.

“It depends on what kind of car they’re dealing with on the crash. Different cables they will use and they can get the data to see what caused the crash.”

The highest speed captured on a black box was 111 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone.

The data from the black box isn’t useful just for investigators, but family of crash victims too. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says they can get closure by knowing the events leading up to the crash.

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