Car Crash Recorders and Other Methods of Calculating Speed After an Accident
Law enforcement officials and personal injury attorneys around the State of Georgia have a new ally in their accident reconstruction efforts: car crash recorders. Unknown to many people, most modern vehicles come equipped with a recording device that records, among other useful information, the following:
- The speed that the vehicle is traveling at prior to impact;
- The speed and deceleration at impact;
- Whether or not air bags deployed after impact; and
- Whether brakes were applied before, during or after impact.
The information is stored in what is called the “black box.” Prior to the advent of this cutting edge technology, accident reconstruction experts relied on crash investigation techniques like skid mark measurements, eyewitness testimony, and the travel distance of the vehicles from their point of initial impact to approximate the vehicles speed and direction of travel. While these techniques may still be utilized to bolster the evidence provided by the crash recorder, the modern devices paint a much clearer picture for accident reconstruction experts—and personal injury juries.
Naturally, vehicle crash recorders have begun to play a significant role in personal injury litigation. While the information can be expensive for the plaintiff to extract, this data can provide a much more precise picture for jurors. This is crucial to the successful litigation of a plaintiff’s case.
In the past, insurance company attorneys would play upon the complexity of traditional accident reconstruction techniques to cast doubt among jurors. To the uninitiated juror, there would appear to be some ambiguity with regard to the speed, direction of travel, and timing. Although the data from a crash recorder still has to be synthesized, the concept of a jet airliner’s black box is already familiar to most people. If not, it can be easily explained during case presentation.
The information obtained from black boxes in tractor-trailer cases are extremely valuable. The plaintiff’s attorney could find out how long the vehicle had been operating, whether or not the driver was taking his or her required rest breaks, the speeds that the vehicles were traveling, and whether or not the driver attempted to break prior to the collision. Information like this could be the difference between winning an enormous jury award or settlement and losing the case outright.