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New Subaru Forester EyeSight Could Be Used To Prove Accident Fault In Court

The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester gets standard EyeSight driver assist. It records everything including accidents and could be used as evidence in court.

Subaru is all about safety and it’s one of their core values along with the Boxer engine, and all-wheel-drive. The new fifth-generation Subaru Forester now comes standard with the brand’s EyeSight safety system that will feature a host of safety tech like Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure, and Sway Warning, and Pre-Collision Throttle Management. Subaru EyeSight features four main safety systems that are designed to prevent accidents from occurring

But if an accident does occur, the system’s video camera could be used in court. According to a report from, EyeSight's cameras record footage of the road ahead on a 22-second loop. Dominick Infante, Subaru of America’s Director of Corporate Communications, told Cars that Subaru owners using EyeSight need to request to see the last 22 seconds of footage, but a court can also order access to the tape. "You can't unless you specifically request to see it or there's a lawsuit," Infante explained, adding later that "you have to give written permission or you have to be subpoenaed."

A report from GovTech, says Subaru isn’t alone, and recording and transmitting footage from a driving car is common practice using a “black box.” They are called “event data recorders” (EDR) and have been placed in vehicles since the 1990s initially tracking when airbags deployed. The new iterations can now record dozens of indicators including vehicle speed, if seat belts were worn, whether the brakes were applied and steering wheel position. The report says most event recorders capture about six seconds of data before a crash, but some newer models can retain up to six minutes.

EyeSight could be used in traffic accident investigations to reconstruct certain aspects of the crash. Subaru’s EyeSight cameras sit high on the windshield with an unobstructed view of the road. The windshield wipers even keep the video camera’s eyes free of debris if it’s snowing or raining allowing a clear picture of what happened ahead.

The recorded data still belongs to the owner of the vehicle, but as Infante says, investigators can obtain the data by consent from the vehicle owner, or from a warrant and can be used as evidence in court to prove fault. The new 2019 Subaru Forester and Ascent family hauler now come standard with EyeSight. The all-wheel-drive vehicles are now safer for customers, but the EyeSight technology could get you into a court battle.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Ollie (not verified)    September 24, 2018 - 6:24PM

Subaru should take this facial recognition to the next step for security, so that the car will simply not start if it cannot recognize who you are. And also allow the owner to set up, via their Mysubaru app, who should be allowed to drive the vehicle, or simply disable the system

Kat Stevens (not verified)    January 13, 2019 - 4:51PM

We decided to purchase a 2019 Subaru Crosstrek based upon its best in class rating by a nationally recognized nonprofit consumer organization.

Now that we have driven our Crosstrek Limited just over 1,000 miles and we have grown to regret our decision. In short, the Crosstrek Limited is a good car mechanically, uncomfortable to ride in, and equipped with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology - a dangerous technology. So, if you still want a Crosstrek - avoid the top of the line Limited model.

We chose a Crosstrek Limited because it has 18-inch wheels, an automatic climate control system, and leather-trimmed upholstery that are not available on the other Crosstrek models.

The Crosstrek is great in the snow, has adequate acceleration, and handles tight curves well.

However, I am six feet tall and weigh about 170 pounds and find the Crosstrek’s seats to be uncomfortably hard and leg room limited. It is fine for taking the kids to school or heading to the store for groceries but forget about it if you are going to be driving for over 45 minutes at a time.

Then there is the Crosstrek Limited’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology that includes a Pre-Collision Braking System and Adaptive Cruise Control. The Subaru manuals make it clear that, “EyeSight is a driver assist technology, which may not operate optimally under all driving conditions.” And goes on to state that, “The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, weather and road conditions.” To emphasize the fact, Subaru has committed nearly 45% of the EyeSight’s 113-page manual to warnings and notices about the limitations and dangers associated with using the system. Unfortunately, the driver is left to figure out what conditions are less that optimal. And even under ideal conditions we have found the EyeSight system to be unpredictable and difficult to override manually resulting in dangerous driving conditions.

Cases in point, on three occasions Eyesight’s Pre-Collision Braking Assist system detected obstacles along the curb - a tree, a garbage can, and a parked car - and assumed that they represented high risks for a collision and activated the automatic braking system –- all while driving at 35 miles per hour on a bright overcast day. In one instance, we were nearly rear-ended by the car behind whose driver had not anticipated that we would come to an abrupt and unnecessary stop on an open road to avoid hitting a treeom the side of the road.

Then there is Adaptive Cruise Control combined with the Pre-Collision Braking - another unsafe feature. Nearly 40% of the text covering Adaptive Cruise Control in the EyeSight manual consists of warnings, cautions, and discussions of the limitations of the advanced cruise control system and for good reason.

When activated, Adaptive Cruise Control functions as a smart cruise control and regulates vehicle speed in order to maintain a "safe following distance" from the vehicle ahead. In addition, it activates automatic braking “when needed” - when the following distance from the vehicle ahead becomes to small and/or the system sees break lights on the vehicle ahead. Unfortunately, when needed is when the technology thinks it is needed - not when the driver thinks they need to slow down or stop. The result is aggressive and unnecessary high-speed breaking for cars that change lanes and tap their breaks in front of you or gently apply their breaks to slow when entering a highway exit. And once the perceived danger is gone the system is slow to recover cruising speed. The result, abrupt and unnecessary slowing of the vehicle on the highway and the risk of a rear-end collisions. It has now happened to us on two occasions – once when a vehicle taped their breaks while changing lanes in front of us and once when a vehicle tapped its breaks to slow down while entering an exit off ramp. Fortunately, the vehicles behind us have been able to slow or swerve to avoid a collision.

We have been unable to find a way to permanently disable EyeSight. By default, the Pre-Collision Breaking System turns on when you start the car and must be disabled manually once the engine is running.

Adaptive Cruise Control is the default cruise control. However Conventional Cruise Control can replace Adaptive Cruise Control once Adaptive Cruise Control is activated by pressing and holding two separate buttons on the steering wheel for approximately two seconds or longer, a distraction from watching the road if the vehicle is moving when you want to engage the conventional cruise control.

No, we are not happy with our 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Limited and recommend that others avoid purchasing the vehicle.

Robert S. (not verified)    September 14, 2019 - 2:09PM

In reply to by Kat Stevens (not verified)

Kat, Have you taken into account all the good things this system does? The car does hit the brake lights when it activates the brakes. The tree had to be very close to the curb or in the street. What if it was a kid wandering out onto the road? There are two different ways to look at things. How about talking about all the wonderful things this SAFETY FEATURE does? I get it, it's not the most comfortable seat FOR YOU but what about all the GOOD features it has?? You can be negative or positive...pretty evident which you chose writing this post. What about pre-collision braking that can keep you from accidentally driving into a store by mistake? What about it warning you when you are distracted and it warns you you're leaving your lane? How about when it alerts you when your drifting off to sleep and your hands are slipping off the wheel? No mention of these features...hmmmm. One of the top systems on the road and you find nothing but things YOU perceive to be bad things. Again positive or negative...

gail (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 12:52AM

In reply to by Robert S. (not verified)

I agree with Kat. This feature is dangerous. I have over 50 years of driving experience for both personal and business. I have taken defensive driving every three years for my entire career. I have NEVER had an accident. That record speaks for itself. Now that I know how to disable this, i will do it every time. It brakes- hard- when there is no need,. When pulling out to pass a slow car, it accelerates way too aggressively. The incessant beeping is annoying and distracting. i do think the blind spot light is helpful. Car and Driver just reviewed the system and agrees with me. I like my forester but this system is souring me on the vehicle.

Most of the situations you cited arise from an inattentive, poor, or sleepy driver. I am none of those things. I trust my own judgment behind the wheel way more than this imperfect system.

gail (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 1:07AM

In reply to by Robert S. (not verified)

This has nothing to do with being positive or negative. It is based on real world driving experience. The system is dangerous. It has a very imperfect notion about what is going on. It's most troubling feature is hard braking when the situation does not warrant it. The incessant beeping is distracting and annoying. When you pull out to pass a slower vehicle, it accelerates way too aggressively.

I have been driving for over 50 years, both personal and for business. I've racked up a LOT of miles. I've taken defensive driving every three years for work. I rode a motorcycle for over 20 years. In all that time, I have NEVER had an accident. I trust my driving way more than this very imperfect system. I like my Forester but this system has affected my feelings about it. Now that I know how to disable it, I will do it every time.

The situations Robert cited for when the system would help are mostly due to driver inattention or incompetence. I take great pride in driving responsibly. After 50+ years of accident free driving, I'll take my chances. I think the potential for this to cause an accident are greater than the odds I will cause one. I do like the blind spot feature, which is helpful, though I always do a head check. Habit I learned from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. BTW, Car and Driver reviewed this system recently and found it intrusive and distracting

Sherman Arthur… (not verified)    September 16, 2020 - 9:39AM

In reply to by Robert S. (not verified)

My wife gets a new car every 5 years and it is time. We have been looking at the 2020 Subaru Forester as a replacement for her 2015 BMW X-1.
We have been impressed with the cabin comforts and ergonomics of all the bells and whistles but are very concerned about the possibly capricious automatic braking feature.
I read Kat's review with interest and though he didn't mention some obviously good aspects of the Subaru, he is not posting his review in an effort to be sycophantic. I agree with him that this feature is pernicious at best and downright dangerous at worst.
Why do car manufacturers keep trying to build nearly autonomous vehicles? We out here in the marketplace do not want them!

Sherman Arthur… (not verified)    September 16, 2020 - 10:21AM

In reply to by Robert S. (not verified)

My wife gets a new car every 5 years and it is time. We have been looking at the 2020 Subaru Forester as a replacement for her 2015 BMW X-1.
We have been impressed with the cabin comforts and ergonomics of all the bells and whistles but are very concerned about the possibly capricious automatic braking feature.
I read Kat's review with interest and though he didn't mention some obviously good aspects of the Subaru, he is not posting his review in an effort to be sycophantic. I agree with him that this feature is pernicious at best and downright dangerous at worst.
Why do car manufacturers keep trying to build nearly autonomous vehicles? We out here in the marketplace do not want them!

Pete (not verified)    January 11, 2023 - 2:10PM

In reply to by Kat Stevens (not verified)

I have a 2021 Ascent with 32,000. About an hour ago, a man stepped off the curb, he crouched in anticipation of getting hit (he had a heavy coat wrapped around the arm closest to the car). Eyesight slammed on the brakes and I missed him by about a foot. I know he did this on purpose because I had eye contact with him.
Long story short, he walked in front of a car and was hit. Thank you Subaru!

Vinny (not verified)    July 17, 2019 - 7:05PM

I don't think I would want this technology in my car lol. If your not at fault I guess it's great because its basically a eye witness only better it's not a human basing their account on memory its video evidence which cant be denied as fact. But if your at fault your car is basically going to rat on you by handing the other side the evidence they need to Beat you in court. Without that technology you may win in court due to lack of evidence. I guess if your a distracted driver the technology is worth it.

Francesca Sansone (not verified)    January 7, 2020 - 1:15AM

Absolutely, ridiculous in regard to the EYESIGHT. It goes OFF, when it’s most needed the most.
This car is a nightmare, and I cannot wait to have the lease end in another 9 months.

Deb Hiland (not verified)    December 4, 2020 - 9:47PM

I have had my 2017 Subaru Outback Limited since Nov 2016. The first year and a half I owned this vehicle which is equipped with eyesight, my daily commute was 168 miles a day, a 4 plus hour round trip drive to northeast New Jersey. The Eyesight system only kicked in two times in the entire time I’ve had the car, which I still own today. Both times were definitely my error, I was performing unsafe actions at the time because I was in a hurry. I have never felt unsafe using this technology.

Before the system hard brakes it does warn you. If you react in any manner such as lift your foot off the gas or go to touch the brake the warning stops.

I thought It was helpful on my long commutes in warning me of stopped traffic when traveling at 65 mph on the highway well in advance of me realizing they were stopped. If you ever driven in New Jersey during rush hour, you’ll know it’s rare you get to drive 65 and if you do your bound to quickly come upon stopped cars.

The good news is if you don’t feel comfortable using it you can shut it off.

The AWD is the best. Don’t let automation which you can choose to use or not to, keep you from considering getting a safe and reliable car.

Vanna (not verified)    December 17, 2020 - 5:40PM

How does one obtain the footage? I see you need a written request but to whom? That would’ve been helpful to include in the article... anyone have this answer? Thanks!

CrimsoNaga (not verified)    December 18, 2020 - 11:32AM

In reply to by Vanna (not verified)

I went through every person I could at Subaru and the one thing that was consistent is that they said the data is not stored and cannot be pulled to be used as evidence. This is all I can go of off from my experience trying to use the eyesight as evidence.

Robert Hill (not verified)    September 20, 2021 - 3:57PM

Well the last comment was almost 1 year ago, has anyone found out how to access the data or where/who to contact to get it?

Maytag 59 (not verified)    June 22, 2022 - 1:56PM

In reply to by Robert Hill (not verified)

I have just been trying to get footage of a minor accident my wife had, and literally just ended my call with Subaru.
There is no footage to be recovered, according to the person I spoke with, on any year or model, only information from the event data recorder(black box). And it's a hassle to get that.

So, as of this date, 6/22/22, there is no way to get any kind of video.
Since yesterday was the Summer Solstice, maybe we should have sacrificed a virgin or something.