Alleged Hit-and-Run Driver Arrested After Her Car Rats Her Out

We had to giggle at this one when it came down the tips line. Last week, a woman involved in a hit-and-run fled the scene — only to have her car call 911 for her.

The woman hit two vehicles and then attempted to drive home when her Ford vehicle called 911 using the Sync Emergency Assistance Technology. When asked by the dispatcher if everything was okay she lied about being in the accident — but the dispatcher did not believe her. After all, the sync feature only calls if the car has seen significant damage, and in this case, the air bag had been deployed.

The police tracked her down at home and arrested her after a paint match on the bumper was discovered. The kicker of this story is that the Sync 911 feature has to be activated when you purchase a vehicle — it’s default setting is disabled.

We guess technology really is making cars safer!  The EU has actually decreed that technology like this should be mandatory for European cars by 2018 — which should help prevent hit-and-runs. For an even more interesting read, check out this article we wrote on the Ethics of Self-Driving vehicles — What if your car had to choose between saving your life, or saving a crowd of pedestrians?

86 thoughts on “Alleged Hit-and-Run Driver Arrested After Her Car Rats Her Out

      1. For a cell phone I can just unplug the battery or don’t take it with me. For a car, I would have to dig into the dashboard and unplug the black box antenna connector? Fast forward a few years and there will be a law to require retrofit ecall units “for safety”.

        Discussion paper – prohibition of the possibility of disabling the eCall system: https://www2.unece.org/wiki/download/attachments/27459667/AECS-10-08%20(NL)%20Discussion%20paper%20-%20switching%20off%20eCall.pdf?api=v2

        eCall and jammers: http://www.imobilitysupport.eu/library/ecall/ecall-implementation-platform/eeip-meetings/2014-10/14-may-2014-1/2513-ecall-and-jammers-v2/file

        1984…

        1. @jimmy
          Do you actually do this? Do you turn off your phone when you aren’t actually making a call? Because that defeats half the purpose of a cellphone: people being able to reach you.

          It also makes it so you might as well have a dumbphone.

          1. The point remains, it is an opt-in service that you choose to activate. You most likely had to sign something for your dealer to activate it, or at a minimum had to manually activate it once you took possession of the car.

          1. Why are the people responding to my mention of a factual thing (RFID are used to gauge tire pressure and are basically mandatory) with some nonsense?

            Although, I was cynical too about the fluoride, but when you read up on it, and when you see the levels.. well I leave it to you to do the effort. wikipedia.org for starters.

            And since they now enforce RFID’s in pets it’s just a slow march towards putting them in people, and of course babies would be the ideal target since you could claim ‘safety of kids’ and scare parents while at the same time have a whole generation grow up seeing it as normal.

          2. RFID in tires (the rubber things on your car), or on wheels (the metal thing the tire gets mounted on)? I can understand using RFID tech to determine tire pressure, but putting them in rubber tires would only be an inventory control effort.

            Fluoride in water serves a purpose – which you may or may not feel is worthwhile – but it is not, as many tin-foil hat wearers once claimed ‘a government mind control program’.

            Who is ‘requiring’ RFID in pets? It is, at best very location specific AND species specific effort.

            RFID is an extremely short-range data comm technology, it does little more than share a predetermined number when subjected to an intense RF field, it is fiendishly hard to read a passive RFID tag from more than 10 feet away – active tags are huge, contain their own power source, and can transmit a signal a reasonable distance (but are typically the size of a paperback book, not something that can be injected into a body.

          3. The heck are you smoking? You realize your on HaD right? The land of people who know hire to use basic tools like an sdr or even something more old fashioned would easily tell us if a rfid or any radio tech was in our vehicles. Of you can’t find proof for that nonsense then your an idiot for expressing such concerns without said proof first.

          1. I thought about this, and though I have no definitive evidence, the amount of heat I feel on the back of my neck, in my car when the bulb from one of those cameras goes off leads me to believe that a HUGE amount of IR LED energy would be needed to overcome the flash of the camera. The passive ones that only use daylight, might be simpler to beat with IRLEDs though.

      1. Connecting through your cell phone is just the first step. Then insurances will give you cheaper insurance if they can access your car data, “because you deserve to pay less if you’re a good driver”. Then the gov’t will say “everybody who has a car tracker will pay less tax because they have been shown to cause less accidents, it’s for your safety and your children’s”, and then they will enforce that every new model of car has such a device, and you are not allowed to turn it off. (Still for your own safety, of course).
        Of course, all hypothetically, but that’s usually how governments work.

      2. But GM’s OnStar system has it’s own sim card or something like that. Not really educated on the details of cell tech, But I’ve serviced enough OnStar units to know that they do come with GPS locaters as well as an integrated cell system.

  1. Didn’t this happen like 2 weeks ago aswell? or am i thinking about the same event? nevertheless, good stuff, had a chuckle in her expense too, serves her right too btw, you dont leave the scene of an accident, at the very least you check on the other person(s) My sister got hit of her bike years ago and the driver fled, and hes still paying, and we’re not even Americans, so go figure what happens in the American justice system with these sort of people. (pay for life)

      1. You think YOUR interest is about the technical aspect and the privacy issues. Guilt and morality, as related to a technical hack are just as relevant/irrelevant as privacy. The article even mentions another article that is ‘even more interesting’ – and that article is specifically on ethics.

        1. That aspect is case specific (is the woman ‘bad’), the other aspects you mention (privacy etc) are general and global.

          If we were to discuss each person’s merit and morality, then even if we all had the same view on such things it would take so long that by the time we reached 10000 people another 100000 would have been born. Plus the society’s morals would have shifted before we got very far. And all this is assuming we are immortal of course.

      2. Guilt and morals is, and I suspect will continue to be for a long time, highly interesting and entertaining to people. HaD is in the entertainment business, albeit with a technical theme. Do the math.

  2. Now if only (and this is the rare instance where I support more government regulation), mandate some form of automatic mechanism to enforce safe following distances between vehicles. The goal would be to prevent my #1 pet peeve: tailgating! Perhaps couple that with beacons along the road that transmit the legal speed limit and have a receiver in the vehicle that would inhibit exceeding that posted/broadcasted speed limit.

    With regards to the 911 tech in the vehicle. Just disable it (if you don’t like, as I, the lack of human control over a system doing something behind your back without your knowledge or approval). Quite simple to pull an antenna lead. I’ve done that on one of my Onstar equipped vehicles (no signal, no service).

    1. That is coming. Froward facing cameras are the next likely FMVSS mandate – even before battery backed up emergency assist. And every automaker is currently looking at forward collision avoidance, pedestrian/object detection and avoidance, lane keeping/departure warning, enhanced route guidance (delaying or improving instruction based on observed surroundings), etc. It’s all coming and will all eventually be mandated by the Government.

      1. Oh and you don’t need beacons.. The other feature that will be standard by all automakers via the forward camera is sign detection. Your car will literally see the speed limit signs – even if you don’t.

        1. That isn’t all coming. It’s all already here. We have a 2014 BMW that does nearly all of those things in the UK (aside from pedestrian avoidance, as far as I know – I don’t drive at people very often). Virtual rumblestrips for lane-departure, sign-reading (about 90% accurate), dynamic route finding (with data from anonymised cell-phone movements harvested to get speed data), and forward collision warning.

          1. Hmm, the sign-reading opens up an avenue for an interesting hack. If it becomes common for cars to read speed limit signs and use them to determine the maximum available speed (maybe the car speeds by 5-8 mph, like many drivers do), what happens when vandals with spray paint alter the sign, or put up their own renegade sign? Either absurdly low or absurdly high?

        2. Here in US, a lot of semi trucks have a system called CMS installed, it uses a sonar style set up, and will engage the brakes if it thinks that that truck is too close to another vehicle. They have a lot of problems around tight turns, tunnels and anything it thinks may be an obstruction in the road. I’ve been in a truck when the system comes on and it will about launch a driver through the windshield, seatbelt or not.

    2. Give the government an excuse to mandate something these days, and you safety is their last thought, although they will pretend if necessary. They only care about tracking and the bottom line of their bribers.

    3. The beacon thing was already tried… or at least discussed years ago.

      There was an attempt to pass a law that would color code the roads five or six different colors. Each color representing the speed. Small computers weren’t possible back then so the driver was responsible for flipping a switch on their dash to match the color of the road. The switches did several things. The first was to enable a set of limiters preventing the driver from exceeding the speed limit as determined by the color. Second a set of lights inside, on the front and on the back would light up corresponding to the appropriate color making it easy for the driver and nearby police to identify which limiters were enabled.

      As you might have figured out, this system wouldn’t last long as one only has to rewire their switches, lights and limiters to avoid this whole mess in the first place. More importantly, lawmakers at the time figured out that they too would have to follow those same laws and they wanted, as should everyone, have the flexibility and freedom to adjust their speed accordingly as conditions allowed.

      Your post DrVonDoom is interesting as you cite wanting more government control but follow immediately with your dislike for what is, essentially, the same thing. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      1. Some mandated safety standards are prudent. Others are utterly absurd. For example a warning label on a lawn mower “Do Not Put Hand Under Deck With Engine Running”. Those kinds of regulations are indeed an example of government overreach. However, other standards, say for minimal structural standards of a vehicle door being able to withstand a certain level of impact (ie. “crash testing”) is warranted.

        In the same vein, having speed limitation devices coupled with anti-tailgating mechanisms would save lives. Similar to OSHA standards for industrial workers. or, FAA regs (the adage, that the rule was “written in blood” – meaning someone had to die before the dots were connected, apply). There’s no excuse (other than being an a-hole) for vehicles to try and “draft” one another on a public roadway at 80 mph. Can you say “chain reaction collision” ?

        Wondering if any studies have been done regarding why humans turn into foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics when they get behind a wheel of a car.

      2. What’s neat about what you describe is that despite it’s obviously safe intentions, It violates the very core of what it means to be a free America. Of course freedom really means the opportunity to do illegal ish and the opprtunity to get away with it. (Hence police states are considered “not free”)

    4. As long as the car is not able to drive fully automatically (without having me to keep responsible watch) I would not accept automatic speed limiting. Sometimes speed limits are ridiculously low and following them is just a way to get bored to sleepiness.
      If the car does most of the driving automatically but I stay responsible and have to keep watch, than this is the wrong direction of development.

  3. Your Garmin knows the speed limits already. No need for beacons or infrastructure.
    A hardened enough computer and stuff it under the dash, tamper proof. No cheating on emissions, rolling coal etc. or no go. Probably being worked on in a guvmnt lab or two.

    Smart meters have wiped out electricity service theft.

    1. Sieg heil and all, but you can just tap off electricity before the smart meter, and seeing nobody comes near it again who’s to find out? ‘problem solved’ by hiding the problem.

      Not to mention that now that those meters are ‘connected’ you can probably hack them too remotely and make them give false results.
      In fact I bet the data transmitted is not encoded at all, so you can just piggyback on the same frequency with a more powerful transmitter or after shielding the meter and then insert fake data in any receiver from the power company.
      If they find out you can always say ‘the most important thing now is to win back trust’ :)

      1. Yes you can. We had recently a case where a whole factory hall had jumped their meter and the utility noticed it after two years because they had suspiciously low meter readings.

        They were a little too ambitious. They could have run something smaller off the stolen power, and nobody would have been any wiser. Save 10-15% of your bill.

    2. Just an interesting thought experiment for you.
      What the power company’s have implemented is power grid security through obsurity; smart meters have not changed things that much.
      You see L1,L2 and N still come into your house from the pole,this feed is metered then goes to your main panel. Electricity theives tap L1 & L2 before the meter install a non-metered sub panel and drain away. Main panel is still metered but your illegal load that’s attaches before the smart meter isn’t.
      You don’t have to be Nicola Tesla to figure out how it happens. The power company might be metering the overall draw by your street or Neibour hood but as long as said thief hasn’t got tech cable danling off their meter it would be hard to determine where out of 50,75,100,200,500 houses the theif was; and they can’t just pull every meter in town to peek behind it looking for shunts or jumpers.
      But since everyone is under impression that the local power Co is monitoring every smart meter real time all the time very few would attempt such a ploy, and hence smart meters eliminate power theft.
      Your less likely to steal if you THINK someone is watching… turns out after a lot of robberies and shootings when police try to gather video evidence the surrounding areas cameras are for show, or only display realtime and don’t record.

      On the note of car safety computers; eventually (very soon) I think the gov will pass a law saying if on systems like on star cannot reach their sat link your car will throw a fatal error code and refuse to start and need to be towed in for service.
      Only answer to that I can think of is to do your hit and runs adventures in older cars, which are cheap and disposable now anyway.

    3. “Smart meters have wiped out electricity service theft.”

      It’s not hard at all to bypass the meter even the smartest meter on the planet. simply tap up stream like most electricity theft already does.

      1. It is plausible that a power company could catch a power thief just by looking at what there line load is and comparing it to the smart meters that are reporting in, from there it becomes a process of elimination. There are load monitors on every line out there, there has to be so that the system knows if there’s a fault and where it’s located, as well as if they can switch to another circuit or do they need to send a repair crew out.

  4. Indeed, many governments have eroded the notion of due process in favour of a “just-state” fantasy.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_process

    I find it fascinating that many people will tolerate being subjugated in return for a false sense of security. The popularity of fictional Law Enforcement shows and News outlets that like to popularize how much easier crime is mitigated when personal rights are stripped away.

    Fact 1: Criminals by their very nature don’t care about what’s legal
    Fact 2: Criminals have a 1:5 chance of being arrested for serious crimes
    Fact 3: Most modern arrests are resolved in plea bargains, and often entrap people who perjure themselves talking to police
    Fact 4: Arming yourself increases the probability that one will most likely die by suicide

    Socrates died to prove that even democratic processes can be unjust to individuals:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates#Trial_and_death

    The driver was made aware the system was active, knowingly committed perjury, and tried to obstruct justice. They are in a situation where the severity of punishment may exceed one’s expectations.

    1. Take a breath. Governmental mandate of seat-belts and air-bags are in the same realm of discussion yet I’m sure most of us agree they are a good idea and all cars sold having them is also comforting. And there are still routes of exception for those mandates based on circumstance. Please separate the ‘big brother’ argument from the ‘it sure would be nice if my car can save me from dying or killing someone’ argument.

      The driver in Florida did not commit perjury. She didn’t take any oath. And I disagree with the accusation of obstructing justice. She sounded intoxicated in the EA call. Obstruction of justice requires a willful and pre-mediated act. Lock her up for DUI sure, but not OoJ.

      1. And yet we are all aware of the alleged proof of her crime prior to a trial that will likely never happen…

        Note, violating seatbelt laws is covered by a different area of law, as it is actually more difficult to deal with a municipal ticket than most would like to admit.
        Your straw-man arguments to rationalize the situation is just silly ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man ).

        1. I think y’all are segmenting this into individual parts and trying to apply a law or reg to each segment and saying because it does not apply here, it applies nowhere or v/v. That’s not how the law works. The victims established that a hit and run occurred (an actual crime). The hit and runner opted to report that they hit and run by signing up for the SYNC feature. By giving SYNC the authority to contact the authorities in the event, the driver essentially has a passenger/witness.

          There is no evidence other than the actual accident and the “witness” (read:SYNC/dispatcher) supplied coordinates. And yes, she gave her car permission to call on her behalf, and a call to a dispatcher means the dispatcher’s judgment is what determines if something is actually wrong. This is sufficient circumstantial evidence to suspect a person of a crime.

      1. “Arming yourself increases the probability that one will most likely die by suicide”

        Source?

        When I looked into it a couple years ago I noticed something interesting – the suicide rates in countries with aggressive gun control laws (France, UK, etc) and America are about the same, with the manner in which one commits suicide being different, not the probability.

        When access to guns is easier, suicide by gun is the most popular method, when access to guns is greatly restricted, suicide by wrist cutting, strangulation, jumping off bridge/in front of train is much more common.

        >

        1. If the study was a Simpson Paradox ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox ), than the numbers would be disproportionally lower in countries where the disturbed are discouraged from owning firearms. This is not the case for most of North America.

          Admittedly, the statistics do fail to recognize most fatalities caused by this method are male ( http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm )…. Most people are made aware of such morbid statistics during training.

          The popular notion that “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” is wrong. Mao Tse Tung is still a popular figure with some individuals, but note his political party killed 45 million civilians to prove the rhetoric incorrect.

          I am also fascinated by peoples’ fondness for politically sponsored rhetoric.

          1. Suicide RATES in England nearly mirror those in the US, when you ignore method of suicide, arguably England has stricter gun control laws and lower per-capita gun ownership than the US.

            England and the US had a suicide rate of about 11-12 suicides per 100,000, ignoring gender… This is taken from WHO statistics from 2012.

            The US is ranked 50th in the world on suicide rate, behind France, Japan, and other nations with stricter gun laws than the US.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

            (You have to click thru the ‘more info’ button in the UK listing to see the suicide rate in England, as opposed to the much more culturally diverse United Kingdom statistic.)

  5. The owner of the car enabled this service and likely paid a fee to pay for monitoring service… This has nothing to do with ‘big brother’ or the so-called ‘nanny state’, it has to do with the car owner failing to understand what her activation of this optional feature meant to her privacy.

  6. What would Georges Orwell think of today technology?

    NSA and other governments agencies watching every communication, cameras everywhere in cities. Private buisinesses collecting all kind of information about us and giving it to governement when asked…Yes 1984 is here but nobody care…

    As long as we have sex, bread and games everything is ok.

    1. Oh but I do care, and there is a reasonable percentage that also does.

      And it’s funny how in real life you notice more that there are plenty that do have a concern than you would expect from the media and from online impressions.

    1. That will absolutely get hacked and on a very regular biases.
      If it is easy enough for the average cop to use and cheap enough that every traffic cop can have one then a bored high school kid could buy or make a device that can make all the cars on a stretch of road come to a stop.
      A cyber terrorist group might be able to shut down every vehicle equipped with a remote kill switch in a city.
      Plus even if it’s isn’t hacked it will be abused by the cops and it will occasionally kill people.
      Activate the kill switch during merging the vehicle will likely get a in a wreck this might even be a good way to assassinate people.

  7. How does this make cars safer? It didn’t prevent the hit and run. It didn’t reduce the likelihood that the hit and run would cause damage to person or property. All it did was make sure the irresponsible lady was able to be punished afterwards. That is not ‘making cars safer’.

    1. “How does this make cars safer?”

      Simple, imagine a scenario where a driver is involved in an accident (hits a tree, drives off the road into ravine, etc) and is incapacitated… This device will alert a call center to youraccidentand advise emergency services/first responders of your exact (GPS-sourced) location.

  8. technology didn’t make anything safer here. It just after the fact made sure someone got caught. the incident still happened regardless of the technology. If the hit and run killed you, you can rest easy knowing the tech will help bust the driver. But “safer” would mean you didn’t get hit at all.

    1. “It just after the fact made sure someone got caught.”

      In this one particular case, yes, but only because the human driving the car choose to try and lie to the human that enquired about the driver’s condition after the service the driver engaged/allowed to use her phone.

      The safety aspect of this device is geared towards the well-being of the driver/occupants of the car primarily (‘Are you OK? You car just registered a serious impact on the front bumper?’), secondarily of any victims of an accident/impact ;’Is any one hurt? Should I call for medical assistance?’). Like a seat belt and air bags, this device is intended to provide for the needs of the driver, not prevent the driver from driving improperly/dangerously.

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