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Beyond black boxes: emergency technology could increase our ability to monitor driver behavior

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at the topic of event data recorders, particularly their potential usefulness in personal injury litigation, as well as their limitations. As we noted last time, the data recorded on these devices does not necessarily provide definitive proof of liability, though it can help establish liability when the data is accurate.

For motor vehicle accident victims, it is important to always work with an experienced attorney to navigate the legal issues that can arise in establishing liability. There are certainly evidentiary issues that can come up with respect to event data recorders, particularly with respect to reliability, accuracy and privacy. Getting access to the data isn’t always a given. 

Interestingly, emerging motor vehicle technology may soon go even further than event data recorders in being able to determine a motorist’s liability for a crash. Tesla, which is pioneering in this area, has designed its vehicles to be constantly connected to the Internet, allow the manufacturer to obtain data about the driver’s actions at any time. This kind of technology is becoming more common as well, and may soon become mainstream.

The technology is largely motivated by the desire to build self-driving vehicles, but it may also be partly driven by the desire of auto manufacturers to enter into the insurance market by partnering with insurance carriers who want to make use of such technology to limit their risk.

The development of advanced technology to collect automobile and driver activity could certainly result not only in a reduction in motor vehicle accidents, but could also have obvious uses in personal injury litigation by both plaintiffs and defendants. As that technology becomes available, it will be interesting to see how courts deal with it from an evidentiary standpoint.