Live 5 Investigates: Sheriff's office uses "black box" data to file charges in accidents

Live 5 Investigates: Sheriff's office uses "black box" data to file charges in accidents

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The "black box" used by Charleston County sheriff's deputies to file charges in a recent fatal accident most likely is in your car too.

"If your car has an airbag, your car has an ACM," said Charleston County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Burrell.

ACM stands for Airbag Control Module.

"Like a little black box, kind of like airplanes have," Burrell explained. "If you're hard on the brakes, the air bag control module wakes up and says something's going on, we may need to deploy."

If a crash occurs, the sheriff's office has the technology and software to find out what happened right before the accident.

"It tells us if you are wearing your seatbelt, tells us if you're on the gas, the percentage of the throttle you're using, whether you're on the brakes, tells us if there's a passenger in the car, tells us if the headlights are on," said Burrell. "It gives us the speed of the car five seconds before impact of what it hits."

The black box was found in the center console of James Munn's car after the accident that killed high school senior Kylie Gillette back in August.

Investigators say the data retrieved from the box showed Munn was driving 94 miles per hour seconds before the impact.

"We actually got a search warrant to download the data," Burrell said.

Burrell says the information from the black boxes has been used in criminal trials and has helped get convictions.

"It's a great tool. It doesn't lie."

Burrell says the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and Highway Patrol are the only agencies in the state that have the software to get data from "black boxes" in cars.

He says the annual cost is $12,000 a year to taxpayers.

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