Cars increasingly resemble a smartphone on wheels, storing personal information such as our location, how we drive, who we talk to and how to reach them. Some even hold a way to join our home WiFi network. If you’ve ever sold an old smartphone or laptop, you probably thought to wipe the hard drive first, to protect your privacy. When we sell a car, or return a rental car, a similar thought may not cross our minds, but cybersecurity experts say it should.
This month a security researcher described buying old Tesla infotainment systems online and finding personal information such as the home addresses and WiFi passwords of the previous owners. The news was first reported by InsideEvs. Searches of eBay reveal that infotainment systems from brands such as BMW, Ford, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz are currently available for sale.
“This isn’t just a Tesla thing, it’s every single infotainment system,” said Justin Schorr, president of DJS Associates, a vehicle forensics firm that reconstructs crashes using on-board data. “Think of all the vehicles with screens, this is ubiquitous almost.”
Robert S. Kinder, Jr., MS, Mechanical Engineer
Although cars do not currently answer our questions in the same manner as Michael Knight’s vehicle, KITT, in the Knight Rider series, cars have been “speaking” to us through electronic data for over two decades. The data answers questions about the moments leading up to a collision, including how fast the vehicle was traveling or if an occupant’s seatbelt was buckled. Such information is extracted from, what is commonly referred to as, an Event Data Recorder (EDR). While EDR information can be helpful, the ever-increasing complexity of newer vehicles allows for an enhanced data set, providing insight to more than just the moments leading up to a collision. Modern vehicles contain over 70 computer systems, creating what seems to be a consistently expanding flow of data. Given the vast collection of computers exchanging data in the vehicle network, it should come as no surprise that some of the components, such as the infotainment and telematic systems, retain a wealth of data.
Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert
Recently, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against hotels because of drownings occurring to paying and non-paying guests.
Most of these lawsuits claimed that a major cause of the incident drownings were related to swimming pool parties. Statistically speaking, more than half of all drownings in the United States occur when a group of patrons visit an aquatic facility. These swimming groups are typically comprised of birthday parties, family reunions, Fourth of July parties, and the like. Hotel swimming pools tend to be significantly smaller than municipal pools, YMCA pools, school pools, etc. Additionally, the vast majority of hotel pools are “Swim at Your Own Risk, NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.” Parties at hotel pools quickly inundate these small vessels with too many people. This creates hazardous situations that can quickly turn deadly; therefore, hotel pools should ban swimming pool parties, unless the hotel provides a lifeguard and creates a pool party policy that is enforceable.
Andrew J. Sievers, Trucking and Transportation Expert
A recent case in New Jersey involved a truck driver failing to see a line of vehicles stopped ahead at a traffic signal along a two-lane state highway. The truck driver drove into the rear of a small pick-up truck, which started a serious chain-reaction crash. The police reported, and the post-accident photographs confirmed, that the impact caused the small pick-up truck to “fold like a sandwich.” Fortunately, the plaintiff survived the devastating impact.
The accident occurred in the late afternoon with clear weather along a dry and open roadway. There were no vision obstructions to the stopped vehicles; however, there had to be an explanation for the full-impact collision. The trucking company in this case was not a “Mom & Pop” organization; it operated and managed nearly 50 trucks. The drivers of these trucks specialized in delivering dairy products to markets and restaurants. Since the trucks were sufficiently sized and crossed state boundaries, their operations were governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Even if the involved truck had remained solely within New Jersey, the state trucking regulations, which mirror the federal regulations, would have applied.
If you encounter work zones, please keep the following tips in mind for your safety and the safety of highway workers.
- Drive the posted work zone speed limit.
- Stay alert and pay close attention to signs and flaggers.
- Turn on your headlights if signs instruct you to do so.
- Maintain a safe distance around vehicles. Don’t tailgate.
- Use four-way flashers when stopped or traveling slowly.
- Avoid distractions and give your full attention to the road.
- Always buckle up.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Be patient.
Jon W. Adams, Director of 3D Reality Capture
With our state-of-the-art technology, including HDS Laser Scanners and Drones, DJS is able to maintain a health and safety conscious approach while collecting relevant information for your case.
Our Rapid Response team is able to document sites, vehicles, and other types of evidence comprehensively and efficiently, utilizing remote sensing technologies. Our LIDAR scanners are mounted on a tripod and have the capacity to reach critical evidence within a range of 130 meters (~425 ft). The speed of data collection coupled with the density of the measurements taken allow us to thoroughly measure critical items, while maintaining social distancing standards.