Is Black box Data Accurate?

Electronic Data Recording is being utilized in many models of new cars and has been used in the Trucking Industry for decades. Use of this data is increasing both in

Products Liability cases as well as in Negligence cases.

One Federal Court case, Bachman v General Motors 77 N.E. 2d 262 (2002) stated that the process of recording and downloading EDR Data is ” established and generally accepted in the scientific


EDR data can be used to show

–  Belted Status

– Pre-Collision Braking Data

–  Pre-Collision Accelerator use

– Pre-Collision Vehicle speed

– Pre-collision engine speed

–  Traction Control

– Air bag deployment

– Fault Codes

– warning lights


And with apologies to courts that have considered this issue above,  The data above really is likely not reliable at all!

Chris Caruso, a GM Engineer, testified in the case of  Lee v Silviera that the data referred to above was never designed to be used in accident reconstruction.

In Morales v American Express, a BMW engineer testified that the data was used to gauge performance of the vehicle only and was not suitable for accident reconstruction.

Courts assume all recording systems are identical. They are not!

All manufacturers systems are different.

The models differ in the type and amount of data they collect.

They differ in Diagnostics

They differ in reliability.

Courts also assume that the person downloading the data is an impartial technician.

Downloads of data, however are subject to manipulation.

Results can differ depending on the power source used and where the technician taps into the data.

The Black box is Anything but an impartial witness who cannot lie.

There are many many things that can cause erroneous reporting.

Data downloads can be wrong..

There can be Dishonest technicians,  failure to have the proper translation tool, lack of effective downloading protocol and more.

Interpretive documents are needed to decode downloads. They are also needed to prevent misinterpretation ny the technician.

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer handling truck accident cases. The next time you are confronted with black box evidence, make sure you do the research to make it was correctly

downloaded and is being correctly interpreted.

Clients may call me anytime in Sacramento at 916-921-6400 or elsewhere in California at 800-404-5400.

Also look up our ratings  on Yelp and Avvo.






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