Bugged: The black box in your car records your every movement
Did you know your car has a brain? It knows how fast you’re going, when you brake, if you’re buckled in, and can even tell your airbags when to deploy.
But who does it benefit, and who uses that information. We take a look under the hood at the "black top black box.”
In May of 2005, a 45-year-old Boise man slammed into a car at the intersection of Highway 55 and Beacon Light Road, killing a mother and father and their five week old daughter.
When the Idaho State Police arrived on scene, one of the things they determined by the physical evidence the pickup that struck the car was going 70...days later the EDR verified their findings. The EDR an event data recorder, and you probably didn't even know about it.
"This is just another piece of the puzzle," said Trooper Brandon Eller, a crash re-constructionist for the Idaho State Police.
The EDR can provide valuable information.
"It's kind of like a cell phone we don't just open it up we collect the physical evidence then if we need to we collect the data out of this and we see if it is supportive of the physical evidence or vice versa," said Eller.
Evidence that is needed and used by police and by insurance agencies, and can be obtained through a court order if need be.
"If it's a simple accident but if there's litigation going on they want to know what the factors are in the accident," said Bill Morrow with Co-part, an auto salvage yard in Caldwell.
He has seen all shapes and sizes come and go...knowing that by the time he gets what's left of the damage vehicle , investigators already know everything they need to know about your speed, brake time, seat belt use and air bag deployment.
“They have computer outlets they just plug into," said Morrow.
For something that's bolted in the floor board or under the dash, they're hard to get to, but really are easy to read.
"Once the computer is plugged into it there's power to it, it just takes a few seconds to retrieve the data from this," Eller said.
Once the data is recorded, it's there for good. So next time the unexpected happens on the black top.
"I’ve had collisions where it's a head on collision and I've interviewed people and they have the cars going in the opposite direction," said Eller.
The black box will take a snap shot and help those figure out exactly what happened. Over 90 percent of new vehicles have EDRs, although not all include all of the data’s elements.