Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/07/03/air_bag_black_box_nails/

Airbag 'black box' nails killer driver

Car gives evidence

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 3rd July 2003 18:48 GMT

Evidence from a car airbag's event data recorder(EDR) played a vital part in sending a drunk driver who killed two girls to prison for 30 years.

Edwin Matos, 47, was drunk and speeding in a suburb near Fort Lauderdale, Florida when his Matos' 2002 Pontiac Grand Am ploughed into a car driven by a teenage girl who pulled out of a driveway into his path.

Jamie Maier, 16, and her friend, Paige Kupperman, 17, were both killed instantly by the resulting crash last August. Matos survived.

In court last month, Matos's lawyers claimed he was travelling 60 mph in a 30 mph zone. But data from the airbag's EDR showed he was travelling at 114 mph seconds before the crash.

This evidence contributed to Circuit Judge James Cohn decision to sentence Matos to a maximum 30 years imprisonment when he was convicted on two counts of manslaughter for his crimes. The Judge also ordered Matos to pay more than $17,000 to the two girl's families for funeral expenses, AP reports.

EDRs in airbags can record a car's speed and deceleration and other data such as the pressure on a brake pedal at the time of a crash.

An estimated 10 million vehicles in the US are fitted with such recorders, which vehicle manufacturers began putting in vehicles in the 1990s to test airbag performance.

In recent year court prosecutors have begun using information from these data recorders, the existence of which most drivers will be unaware, in criminal prosecutions, AP reports. ®

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