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, 9 Dec 2015 @ 1:47pm

    I drive a 2012 Focus with the Microsoft Sync system and the '911 Assist'. When pairing my phone, I did not enable '911 Assist'. When I power on my car, within 30 seconds it makes a LOUD audio announcement that '911 assist is set to off'. Apparently I cannot stop the loud warning without turning 911 assist ON. There is NO WAY in the software to disable the audible warning.

    Bonus points I would run my phone (I only paired it for music) thru the external USB but it doesn't support my particular phone model (Galaxy Note 2).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:03pm

    I guess we need a new technology to take the place of representing American Freedom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    Luckily Onstar hasn't expanded into the gun market yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re:

    with onstar guns, taking aim is taken care of for you, never be caught unaware. Our automatic aiming and firing system will target intruders and take them out with your simple voice command (or ours, but trust us).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:12pm

    Re:

    Yeah, that's the problem with the Sync system. If you don't want 911 Assist, tough luck it's going to harass you about it every time you try and connect through bluetooth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:12pm

    Palindrom

    "OnStar" is a palindrome: "Rats, No!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Palindrome

    With a typo in the subject line...ugh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Palindrome

    I think the term you're looking for is "anagram", but don't worry, these things happen to the best of us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Chris Brand, 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Palindrome

    Also not a palindrome (a word or phrase that reads the same forwards as backwards, like "dad") at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:30pm

    Consider the American plumber who sold his truck in Texas, only to find himself at the center of media attention when it reappeared - with his company name and number still on the side - in use by ISIS in Syria.

    Imagine an OnStar or Sync system in the vehicle.

    US drone operators being able to track it using its own GPS system and radio signals. Killing the engine at the last moment to make it an easier target for incoming missiles. A voice coming from the burning wreckage: "Sir, we've detected that your airbag deployed." Police visiting the original owner's house to look for damage.

    Politicians demanding that data from these systems not be encrypted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    crade (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:34pm

    "the circuitous route still reached the most desirable conclusion."

    Most desirable for everyone except the person buying the product.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:40pm

    This is normal

    With most automated car systems, it's normal to be called through OnStar/Sync/Uconnect system when the airbags deploy. That's one of the safety features. If you are injured and/or unconscious, emergency services will already be on their way without you needing to call 911.

    This is nothing to lose any sleep over. I accept this in favor of my life possibly being saved by the automated system if I do end up being in bad accident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Max (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 2:41pm

    Hell no...

    An excellent reason to check the [x]no [x]no [x]No [x]NO [x] NO!!! [x]HELL NO YOU FUCKERS!!! boxes on your "would you like to share some tracking / diagnostics info with us?" questionnaire if there ever was one. Denying or admitting a car-related event is -== MY ==- choice, not my car's, full stop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Hell no...

    This is EXACTLY what is wrong with society today. No one wants to be held accountable for their actions. If you hit my car you are required to report it...It's NOT a choice. If your car does that for you...Good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Hell no...

    They sell all of your data already so giving anyone an option to exclude themselves would not be in their best interest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 3:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Palindrome

    more like a palindrone, described as a malapropism with misplaced intentions...
    hee hee hee

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    John Nemesh, 9 Dec 2015 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    I suggest we name it "Trumpology"!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 4:01pm

    Re: This is normal

    >This is normal
    In your opinion.

    > I accept this
    That's your choice, but such tech should always be opt-in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Palindrome

    This is surely errant pedantry, like a musical "round" or "canon" that isn't a round if only one line of the score is printed out. The original poster provided enough information for anyone to construct the palindrome:

    "Onstar? Rats, NO!"

    A perfectly sensible remark for anyone who fears having an accident while fleeing the scene of a crime in a car.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 4:32pm

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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 4:47pm

    i was just bitching the other day that my lexus doesn't have intermittent wipers. i won't bitch now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re:

    What a wonderful idea, I'm sure that will drive sales though the roof.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Palindrome

    At least we got that sorted out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:23pm

    Re:

    You are experiencing a car accident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:25pm

    Re: This is normal

    Cool!
    Someone bumps your vehicle in the parking lot and you have to not only replace the airbag and other damage which is not cheap but you also may end up with a bill for emergency services you did not ask for.
    Enjoy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Hell no...

    This is exactly what is so cool about our nanny state today, you could be going about your daily business without any problems - only to be accosted by the do-gooding self righteous who think they should be in control of everything.
    Isn't it awesome? I don't understand why anyone would not welcome this with open arms and wallet. It is worth every penny - amirite?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Hell no...

    Honestly, I have no idea what happened to that antenna. I will get that fixed right away - not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:34pm

    Re:

    911, please state your emergency.

    (modem sound) ... beep beep beep

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 8:50pm

    How does one know about this stuff?

    I have an older F-series Ford truck that I know has some type of computer and simple things like seatbelt and door alarms but other than basic things like that, there isn't anything else in the owners manual.

    Do auto makers disclose ALL of the things that modern cars can do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 10:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Of course, Microsoft got there first, years ago...


    Clippy: "It looks like you are trying to kill a Super Mutant. Would you like help?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 11:57pm

    Re:

    There is the small matter of the car being able to change its location, and so it is better to use a number that get the emergency services local to the car, rather than local to the owners house. The San Diego police cannot assist you if you are in Quebec, but 911 still works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 1:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Palindrome

    They're not looking for "anagram", which means that the letters can be rearranged to form a different phrase; they're looking for a term that specifically means that the letters can be reversed to form a different phrase.
    It's not "palindrome", which would be "OnStar rats, no!", but I think "anagram" isn't sufficient for what they're looking for either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 2:22am

    Re: Re: Hell no...

    "If your car does that for you...Good."

    oh YES,
    our smartphones should not only turn us in, but also testify against us

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 2:25am

    so THAT is why we all did subsidize that
    cash for clunkers NSA BUSH program?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Stephen, 10 Dec 2015 @ 4:20am

    Car Snitching

    Can the day be far off when the car will only call the cops, they will drive the offending human round to the nearest police station for arrest? (This nearly happened to Tom Cruise's character in the film "Minority Report".)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Hell no...

    snitch phones

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 5:44am

    Re: Car Snitching

    Yes. It will also spit out citations for swearing.
    Oh, and there is no toilet paper, please use the three shells.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    There is a way to turn it off...and keep the other prompts. It is in the phone menu took me a while to find it even knowing it was there. It was well hidden.. but if you turn it off instead of saying it out loud it turns ALL audio off and displays the 911 assist is off on the radio display.....Annoying as hell and just as annoying. I hate it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 6:24am

    Re: Car Snitching

    Perhaps that's the next phase of the Google self-driving car.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 7:00am

    what about the already working feature called
    "CRASH KILLING the passenger leaving NO SKIDMARKS"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 7:00am

    Re:

    that is a useful one

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. icon
    Richard (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: This is normal

    If the car isn't running, the airbag won't deploy, and OnStar won't be contacted.

    If you are in the car, take down the other guy's licence plate number, and make the other guy pay for it though his insurance.

    I don't see the issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: This is normal

    United States regulations require deployment in crashes at least equivalent in deceleration to a 23 km/h (14 mph) barrier collision, or similarly, striking a parked car of similar size across the full front of each vehicle at about twice the speed

    "What You Need to Know About Air Bags, DOT HS 809 575". Nhtsa.gov. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. icon
    Cdaragorn (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 8:10am

    Laws don't take away choice...

    Making something a law, even a good law, does not take away the right to choose or make something not a choice.

    Is it wrong to hit and run? Of course, but it's even more wrong to insist that someone should not have the power to choose what they do in a situation. They cannot choose the consequences of their choices, but they can and should have the right to make those choices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 9:33am

    For those who are confused (I am the first poster), this is the '911 Assist' on the Microsoft Sync system that one often sees in modern Ford cars. When you pair your phone via bluetooth (to call out or play audio), you have the option of setting this to 'on' or not. If you don't, an annoyingly loud warning plays every time you turn on your car. If you do activate it, when the car registers an accident through the computer system, it will automatically bluetooth your phone to call 911.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. icon
    PRMan (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    Yet another reason for Ford to be on my lifetime ban list...

    (Although owning an Explorer was enough...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. icon
    PRMan (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re:

    A good attorney might be able to spin this law as a way of invalidating her conviction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. icon
    tqk (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 6:37pm

    Re:

    Most desirable for everyone except the person buying the product.

    Even she'd be safer on the road if everyone like her were removed from driving it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. icon
    Richard (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This is normal

    Exactly. A parked car isn't decelerating.

    If you strike a parked car at a certain speed, your airbags must go off: that's (approximately) what the law you quoted says. It does not say that the parked car's airbags must deploy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2015 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: This is normal

    Exactly. A parked car isn't decelerating.

    It gets a sudden acceleration when hit, which looks the same to the sensors.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2015 @ 4:32am

    This is why the ladies have cheaper insurance rates than men

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Dec 2015 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Hell no...

    That any elements of a nanny state are believed to be required at all speaks volumes for the people's willingness to take personal responsibility for their actions. Basically, they don't, their selfishiness becomes a burden on the rest of us and measures have to be taken. While I'm not a fan of the nanny state at all I see people like this irresponsible bint as being a major cause or excuse for bringing it in. Is it really too much to ask people to be considerate when driving?

    Either be prepared to take the consequences of your actions when driving or stay off the damn road! /snark

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Dec 2015 @ 5:48am

    Re: Laws don't take away choice...

    They don't have the right to get away with hit-and-run.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 14 Dec 2015 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re: Car Snitching

    Okay, I can see that. Fine, you win. I'm still not happy about the idea that it's okay to let people away with hit-and-runs, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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