Most commonly associated with airplanes, a "black box" is an electronic data recorder placed in a vehicle, which extracts information through computer software to determine specifics in a crash. The New York Times reports 96% of new cars already have black boxes installed in them along with 150 million older vehicles.

The black box is typically located behind the passenger's front seat, driver's seat or center console of your vehicle. It records two types of auto crash events, a non-deployment and a deployment event. A non-deployment crash is an auto accident where the air bags do not inflate and a deployment crash is an extreme auto accident where the air bags do inflate upon impact.

After a crash, a vehicle's black box records only a few seconds of information which is later evaluated through computer software. The information that a black box gathers may include speed, acceleration, break detection and whether or not air bags were deployed. More refined modules like those used in large trucks record an assortment of other operational data. This information can help crash investigators rate the automobile's safety system. This data can also help law officials determine who is responsible for a vehicle crash.

Black box data is not generally obtained in routine motor vehicle accidents in Illinois, as there are costs involved in retrieving the information from the device. As advances in technology continue to occur, there may be a time in the future where black box information becomes a standard part of an accident investigation.