Raleigh, N.C., police are building a second-degree murder case against a man accused of drunken driving with the help of a small on-board computer in the man’s car, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Investigators obtained a search warrant that allowed them to extract information from an instrument known as an event data recorder in the 2001 Cadillac Deville that a man was driving when he struck another car March 1. The other driver was killed.
The recorder is a computer under a vehicle floorboard. It stores information immediately before and after a crash, such as how fast the vehicle was traveling and whether the driver braked or was using his seat belt, turn signals, and headlights. It is similar to the black box found on aircraft. Sixty-four percent of motor vehicles on the road in the U.S. are equipped with the recorders. “It’s an invaluable tool for research,” said a federal transportation official. “But there are other issues dealing with privacy that have to be resolved by the courts. Until then, we are not going to require auto manufacturers to equip their cars with EDRs.”