Sunday, November 26, 2006

Is Your Car Spying On You?


Does your car have an Event Data Recorder? If it does, and 2/3 of the cars currently on the road do, your car is recording data about your driving and that information can be used against you if you have an accident.

Most people don’t know that their car may have a black box, similar to the ones used in airplanes. Its main job is safety, it operates the airbags, but it also records information. Some continuously record data, overwriting the previous few minutes until a crash stops them, while others are activated by crash-like events (such as sudden changes in velocity or angular momentum) and continue to record until the accident is over. EDRs can record whether or not the brakes were used, the speed at the time of impact, the steering angle and whether seat belts were worn during the crash. Some types hold the information until recovered at the crash site, and others can transmit the data wirelessly to authorities (such as police and insurance companies). If you’re wondering if your car has one, in 2004 and newer models they are required to disclose this information in the drivers manual.

The number of people being convicted (most of whom were completely unaware their car had a black box) using data from their cars EDRs is growing rapidly. The accuracy of EDR information has not been thoroughly investigated/studied, given the fact that once installed (when the car is manufactured) the EDRs are never recalibrated to check their accuracy. Numerous people, now sitting in prison have discovered the hard way that while these black boxes save lives, they can also go a long way towards ruining them.
For further info., there is a great video story about this at CNN.com

8 Comments:

Anonymous Teresa said...

You know you have a friend who is a claims adjuster (hint, hint) and probably should have consulted with her. I get no love!

You have to have the owner's written authorization to obtain EDR information and it is rarely ever used. In my experience I have never seen anyone go to jail based on EDR information. If the EDR found out the truth why isn't that a good thing? The innocent party would be be made whole again and the offender would be found guilty. I believe people are basically good, but when it comes to them thinking they might get into trouble they will lie, lie, lie. Would you want to be involved in an accident where you know you were in the right and the other party lied so you can't recover your expenses. I can tell you it is very frustrating for us (the adjusters) and the clients.

The only troublesome thing I have seen being used with EDRs are rental companies who put a speed restriction in their rental contracts and they check the EDR & will charge a fee to customers who go over the speed limit. Customers however should be reading what they sign and if they don't then it's their own fault. Perhaps CNN should check their facts and not spread misinformation.

I spend most of my day doing rumor and myth busting because people listen to those idiotic lawyer commercials and their friends/family who don't know squat. EDRs have been around for a while and I'd like to find those countless (presumably innocent) people sitting in jail cells due to EDR.

All righty! I'm done with my rant. Sorry!

11/27/2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Teresa, first let me clarify something I do not necessarily think that the use of EDR data in criminal cases of wrong doing is a bad thing, as long as EDR data has been proven, through long term study to be accurate, which is somewhat questionable at this point. I do however think that people purchasing vehicles should be made aware of EDRs existence in
said vehicles, which rarely happens. As for your assertion that you have never seen anyone go to jail based on EDR info., it does and is happening. The following is a rather long list of cases just in the U.S. where EDR info. was used as evidence. If you include Canadian cases as well, you have the makings of a very long book. Thanks for your comment.
Arizona v. O'Brien, Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County, Case No.
CR 2003-016197-001 DT (2004)

This was a criminal case where the driver was charged with leaving the scene of a pedestrian involved accident. EDR evidence was admitted. The defendant was found guilty.

California

California v. Beeler, San Diego Superior Court, Case No. SCD158974 (2002)

The defendant was operating a Ferrari and lost control in a curve, crossing the center median striking a Saturn and killing the driver. EDR data was admitted. The defendant was convicted. This case was contributed by Ed Phillips.

California v. Sanchez, Ventura County, Case No. 2001 9000 34 (2003)

This was a murder case where the vehicle was not the weapon. EDR evidence was admitted. This case was contributed by Rusty Haight.

California v. Garibay, San Diego Superior Court, Case No. DA MAL791 (2006)

The defendant was involved in a head-on collision a motorcycle where two people on the motorcycle were killed. The defendant was arrested about 1.5 miles from the scene near her disabled vehicle. At trial, SDM data was admitted without contention. The defendant was convicted by the jury on two counts of vehicular manslaughter. This case was contributed by Ed Phillips.

California v. Whelan, San Fernando Superior Court (2006)

The defendant was convicted in a jury trial on three counts of second degree murder and two related counts of driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.26. The EDR in the defendant's car, a 2003 Chevrolet Corvette, recorded a speed of 156 miles per hour at five seconds before impact with a 1988 Honda Accord.

Colorado

Colorado v. Cain, 1st Judicial District Court, Division 3, Jefferson County, Case No. 01 CR 967 (2002)

This was a Felony Vehicular Assault case and was the first criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced. The defendant was acquitted by the jury.

Florida

Florida v. Walker, 20th Judicial Circuit, Lee County, Case No. 00-002866CF RTC (2003)

This was a criminal case with a two vehicle, head-on collision. The defendant was charged with two counts of Vehicular Homicide. At issue was the defendant's speed and in which lane the collision occurred. The EDR provided evidence the defendant was not speeding at the time of the collision. The jury found the defendant not guilty.

Florida v. Matos, 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case No. 02015762 CF 10A (2003)

This was a criminal case with two counts of Vehicular Homicide. EDR evidence relating to vehicle speed was introduced and the case went to a jury. The defendant was convicted by a jury.

Florida v. Ubals, 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Case No. 01017144 CF 10A (2003)

This was a criminal case with two counts of DUI Manslaughter and two counts of Vehicular Homicide. The defendant was found guilty in a jury trial.

Florida v. Derreza, 1st Judicial Circuit, Escambia County, Case No. 2004 CF 003842A (2005)
Florida v. Grayson, 1st Judicial Circuit, Escambia County, Case No. 2004 CF 003842B (2005)

This was a criminal case where the defendants were charged with Negligent Homicide. The prosecution contended the defendants were racing in a 45 mph speed zone. EDR evidence from Grayson's vehicle was entered by the prosecution and indicated a speed of 76 to 80 mph. Defense experts offered speed estimates of 48 to 54 mph. A defense eyewitness testified the vehicles did not appear to be racing before the crash. Both defendants were found not guilty by a jury. More details.

Florida Appellate

Matos v. Florida, Fourth District Court of Appeals, Case No. 4D03-2043, Opinion Filed March 30, 2005. [899 So. 2d 403; 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 4359; 30 Fla. L. Weekly D 859]

This is the Appeals Court opinion on the admissibility of EDR evidence. The conviction was upheld and EDR evidence found to be admissible. The opinion includes an analysis on a Frye issue.

The Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case on Sep. 12, 2005, Case No. SCO5-887. [Matos v. State, 2005 Fla. LEXIS 1960, Fla., Sep. 12, 2005]

Georgia

Anderson-Barahona v. General Motors Corp., No. 99A19714, GA, Cobb County Cir. Ct., Apr. 7, 2000.

In this case, the plaintiff sought data from GM to help prove a defect caused the car to accelerate suddenly to 90 mph resulting in a crash.

Hawaii

Hawaii v. Michael Baybado, Case No. 04-1-0456(2), 2nd Cir. Ct., May 23, 2005.

On Oct. 24, 2002, a 2001 Chevrolet S-10 pickup, driven by Baybado, crossed the center line of a highway in west Maui striking a van approaching from the opposite direction. One passenger in the van was killed and two other occupants were injured. Baybado was charged with first degree negligent homicide. Baybado testified that he had fallen asleep at the wheel while EDR data indicated a speed of about 45 mph with no braking prior to impact. The defendant was convicted on second degree negligent homicide. This case was contributed by James H. Mitchell, Impact Dynamics Co., Hilo, HI.

Illinois

Illinois v. Carone, Kane County Circuit Court, Case No. 03-CF-515 (2005)

This was a bench trial where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. The court found the defendant guilty on 10 counts that included reckless homicide, reckless homicide of an unborn child and a traffic violation for causing the crash.

Illinois Appellate

Bachman, et al, v. General Motors Corp., Uftring Chevrolet-Oldsmobile, Delphi Automotive Systems and Delco Electronics Systems, Illinois App. Ct., 4th Dist., No. 4-01-0237, Appeal from Circuit Court of Woodford County, Case No. 98L21 (2002)

This is an appellate decision finding SDM data acquisition is not new or novel and meets the Frye standard for admissibility. SDM data was admitted into evidence in the civil trial. This case was contributed by Brad Muir.

Illinois v. Barham, Illinois App. Ct, 5th Dist., No. 5-02-0047, Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County, Case No. 00-CF-90 (2003)

This is an appellate decision in a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced regarding the vehicle's speed. The conviction was overturned on grounds not related to the EDR evidence. This case was contributed by William Newman.

Maine

Maine v. Howell, Somerset County Superior Court, Docket No. CR05427 (2006)

The charge of Manslaughter was dismissed when the judge determined the state had failed to prove the charges. EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution indicating a speed of 62 to 67mph in a 55mph zone.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts v. Zimmerman, Peabody District Court, Case No. 0340-CR-0071 (2005)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was entered by the prosecution. The defendant was found guilty in a jury trial of Misdemeanor Homicide. The Massachusetts Appeals Court, Case no. 2005-J-0316, denied a defendant's motion for stay without hearing on July 21, 2005.

Massachusetts v. Wilson, Hampden Superior Court, Case No. 04-1228 (2005)

This was a criminal case where the prosecution sought to enter EDR evidence and the defense objected. The court ruled the EDR evidence was inadmissible. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty. More details.

Michigan

Michigan v. Wood, Charlotte, Eaton County, Case No. 02-283-FH (2003)

Admission of the EDR data over the objection of the defense where the defendant brought a "Davis-Frye" motion. The evidence was admitted. This case was contributed by Rusty Haight.

Michigan v. Schubert, 13th Circuit Court, Case No. 04-9625-FH (2005)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. A jury found the defendant guilty of negligent homicide.

Michigan v. Farrell, 6th Circuit Court, Oakland County, Case No. 206-284-FH (2006)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. The EDR indicated a speed of 55 to 58mph in a 35mph zone. A jury found the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter involving a motor vehicle.

Nevada

Nevada v. Corcran, 8th District Court, Case No. 06-C-222574-C (2006)

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper pled guilty to five counts of felony reckless driving in an on-duty crash that killed four people and injured one in February, 2006. The defendant was driving 113mph in a police cruiser that crashed into a Cadillac on I-15 south of Las Vegas. The police determined the emergency lights and siren were not in use, that the defendant was not in pursuit of another vehicle and was not answering an emergency dispatch at the time of the crash. Crash data was recovered from the police cruiser, a 2005 Crown Victoria, by Ford Motor Co.

New York

New York v. Christmann, Newark Village Court, Case No. 03110007 (2004)

This was a non-jury criminal trial on a speeding citation. The defendant was found guilty of speeding, using EDR evidence, when his vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian.

New York v. Hopkins, Monroe County Court, Case No. 2004-0338 (2004)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. A jury found the defendant guilty of manslaughter.

Ohio

Ohio v. Larry Wilson, Perry County Common Pleas Court, Case No. 04-CR-0034 (2005)
Ohio v. Jason Barron, Perry County Common Pleas Court, Case No. 04-CR-0035 (2005)

These criminal cases were combined at trial and both defendants were charged with Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. Witnesses reported the defendants were racing before colliding with a third vehicle at an intersection. EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. The jury returned a guilty verdict. These cases were contributed by Sgt. Chuck Veppert, Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Ohio Appellate

Ohio v. Larry Wilson, 5th District Court of Appeals, Case No. 05CA5 (2005)
[2005 Ohio 6201;2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 5595]

This appeal was filed on two claims of expert witness testimony (EDR) and one claim each on sentencing and the lack of a pre-sentencing statement by the defendant. The trial court's decisions were upheld on three claims while one was remanded for re-sentencing.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania v. Weaver, Bucks County Juvenile Court (2004)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution. A guilty verdict, on one count of involuntary manslaughter, was handed down by Judge Rea Boylan in a "adversarial hearing".

Pennsylvania v. Wilson, Westmoreland County, Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Docket No. CP-65-CR-0002666-2005 (2006)

The defendant was driving a 2001 Impala, on an icy road with a speed limit of 55mph, when it collided with another vehicle killing two occupants. EDR evidence was admitted over the objection of the defense. The EDR reported speeds of 51 to 60mph for the Impala. The police reconstruction determined a speed range of 30 to 40mph. The defendant claimed a speed range of 30 to 35mph. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty to all charges.

Pennsylvania v. King, Westmoreland County, Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Docket No. CP-65-CR-0003646-2004 (2006)

The defendant's vehicle crossed over double yellow center line and collided with an oncoming
vehicle killing the driver and a passenger. EDR evidence was admitted. The defendant was found not guilty of Homicide by Vehicle but was found guilty of two counts of Failure to Keep Right. Contributed by Cpl. Michael G. Schmidt, Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Specialist, Pennsylvania State Police, Troop A - Indiana, Indiana, PA.

South Carolina

South Carolina v. Cassels, Beaufort County, General Session Indictment No. 2002 GF 070372 (2003)

This was a criminal case with one count of reckless homicide. The EDR indicated the defendant was traveling at 98 mph with 100% throttle. The police speed estimate was 82 to 96 mph at impact with another vehicle. The jury returned a guilty verdict.

South Dakota

South Dakota v. Janklow, 3rd Cir., Moody County, Case No. 03-147 (2003)

This was a two vehicle accident involving a car and a motorcycle. The defense entered data from the EDR in the defendant's 1995 Cadillac without objection from the prosecution. The defendant was found guilty.

Texas

Texas v. Zachary, 24th Judicial District Court, Case No. 36975 (2006)

This was a four vehicle accident with the defendant charged with Intoxicated Manslaughter. The prosecution entered data from the EDR in the defendant's Camaro over the objection of the defense. The defendant rejected a prosecution plea agreement offer of eleven years. The jury returned a guilty verdict with a sentence of three years.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin v. Furst, Outagamie County Circuit Court, Case No. 00CF667 (2001)

This was a criminal case where the defendant was charged with two counts of Homicide by the Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle. The EDR was recovered from the victim's vehicle, a 1998 Buick Le Sabre, in which two occupants were killed. The jury found the defendant guilty on both counts.

Virginia

Virginia v. O'Connell, Chesterfield Circuit Court, Case No. CR04F009991 (2004)

This was a criminal case where EDR evidence was introduced by the prosecution and defense. Charges included Racing, DUI, Hit & Run, Manslaughter and DUI Manslaughter. The defendant was convicted in a bench trial.

11/27/2006 3:19 AM  
Anonymous danette said...

Heh - must be a pretty cool gadget.

I've always been facinated by the "Little Black Box" ;)

11/27/2006 3:56 AM  
Blogger Flo said...

Why shouldn't that data be used as evidence? If you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to worry about.

11/27/2006 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Intresting post, and while I believe that evidence that is truthful and acurate should be used to prove guilt, it seems kind of big brotherish to me. I also am smart enough to know I would fight something that had been on the road with me for a few years and isn't re-calibrated ever again! May not be acurate anymore, but I think that alot of folks seemed to have missed that part of your original post, so I ask them this:

Police are required to calibrate their equiment that they use to track speed with on a very regular basis, 3-4 times a week. If you were given a speeding ticket, by an officer using equipment that had not been calibrated since 2004, what would you do, or how would you feel.

Machines are not perfect, for things to work best they have to be maintained.

11/27/2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger Dustin said...

Very big brother-ish, but what else would you expect these days? Nice post.

11/27/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger lilfeathers2000 said...

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Its Click N Comment
Monday
Have a Blessed Day
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11/27/2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone. Flo, as I said in my earlier comment I don't think it's wrong for them to use the EDR data in court, if it can be proven to be accurate. But your assertion that, if you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about, is not necessarily true, since if the EDR data is not accurate and it says you were speeding for instance, when you really weren't and your convicted of manslaughter or whatever because of that evidence I imagine you'd have a problem with that. The EDR's accuracy and the whole big brotherish aspect to it is what concerns me.

11/27/2006 3:39 PM  

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