Driver Leaves Scene Of Accident, Gets Turned In By Her Car

from the prosecution-would-like-to-submit-this-jumble-of-circuits-and-wires-as-Exhibit-A dept

It's no secret today's vehicles collect tons of data. Or, at least, it shouldn't be a secret. It certainly isn't well-known, despite even some of the latest comers to the tech scene -- legislators -- having questioned automakers about their handling of driver data.

More than one insurance company will offer you a discount if you allow them to track your driving habits. Employers have been known to utilize "black boxes" in company vehicles. These days, the tech is rarely even optional, although these "event data recorders" generally only report back to the manufacturers themselves. Consumer-oriented products like OnStar combine vehicle data with GPS location to contact law enforcement/medical personnel if something unexpected happens. Drivers can trigger this voluntarily to seek assistance when stranded on the road because of engine trouble, flat tires, etc.

They can also trigger this involuntarily, as one Florida woman found out.

Police responded to a hit-and-run in the 500 block of Northwest Prima Vista Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The victim, Anna Preston, said she was struck from behind by a black vehicle that took off. Preston was taken to the hospital with back injuries.

Around the same time, police dispatch got an automated call from a vehicle emergency system stating the owner of a Ford vehicle was involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle.
The owner of the vehicle seemed surprised to be receiving a call from a 911 dispatcher. The driver, Cathy Bernstein, first claimed she hadn't been in an accident. Unfortunately, the call was triggered by her airbag deploying, which can happen without a corresponding impact, but rarely enough that the dispatcher sent police officers to the driver's home following the phone call.

At that point, her story changed.
Police went to Bernsteins's home on Northwest Foxworth Avenue and saw that her vehicle had extensive front-end damage and silver paint from Preston's vehicle on it. Bernstein's airbag had also been deployed.

Police said Bernstein again denied hitting another vehicle, saying she had struck a tree.
From that point, the story gets even better.
It was later discovered that Bernstein had been involved in another accident prior to the one with Preston and was fleeing from that incident.
The whole recording is worth a listen, especially as Bernstein buys time after being blindsided by the unexpected incoming call.
Dispatcher: Are you broke down?
Bernstein: No. Unfortunately [looooooong pause] I'm fine.


[...]


Bernstein: The guy who hit me […] I could not control that.
Dispatcher: So, you HAVE been in an accident.
Bernstein: [pause, then very slowly] No.
In this case, the system worked, although not in the way anyone really expected. Someone who thought they had gotten away with two consecutive hit-and-runs found herself talking to police officers after her car tried to help her out by dialing 911. The onboard system is meant to ensure the safety of the driver. In this case, it was apparently everyone else that needed the protection, but the circuitous route still reached the most desirable conclusion.

Filed Under: accidents, cars, hit and run, internet of things


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    ...Why did the car dial 911 directly, instead of the onstar customer call center? House alarms don't dial 911. Cars shouldn't either...

    Is that in fact what happened? Hard to tell from the article.

    As far as alarms calling emergency services: AFAIK that's illegal by federal law. Both burglar and fire alarms must transmit their signal(s) to a central station; they cannot call an emergency service directly.

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