How a little black box was used as key evidence in NKY crash that killed 5

November 9, 2017 | By Brian Hamrick, WLWT5

Some of the most compelling evidence in the case against a man charged with causing a crash that killed five people comes from the “black box” inside his vehicle.

In court, prosecutors showed information from the device indicating Daniel Greis was driving 96 miles per hour at the time of impact.

The “black box” is formally known as the “event data recorder” and has been required on every new car made since 2014, but was in use for more than a decade before that.

“They’re not all exactly the same. but one thing that is consistent is that a lot of people don’t realize that they’re driving a vehicle that has this type of equipment,” said AAA spokeswoman Cheryl Parker.

The EDR stores between five and 20 seconds of information on a loop, until a crash, and then the information is saved.

“This information is useful for crash investigators,” Parker said.

It was key evidence against Greis.

Prosecutors showed the progression of speed from 83 miles per hour at 2.5 seconds before impact to 96 miles per hour when the cars collided.

The EDR also showed the accelerator pressed to 100 percent until the moment of impact.

Rodney Pollitt, Samantha Malohn and their three children were killed in the crash on Staffordsburg Road Oct. 26.

Investigators say Greis was intoxicated when he crossed a double yellow line to illegally pass a vehicle and hit the oncoming car head-on.

The EDR also can record information related to braking, seatbelt use, airbag deployment and steering movements, among other factors.

“If there are any factors in a crash that are in question, that recorder can provide investigators with the information that they need to have a solid case,” Parker said.

Parker said drivers should know what kind of recorder is in their vehicle.

The information in the EDR belongs to the owner of the vehicle but a court can subpoena the data.