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 What Information is Stored in Car Event Data Recorder

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s podcast discusses the modern technology available in most cars that will record what happens to the vehicle during a crash.

The recording device is called an Event Data Recorder or EDR. These devices are like the infamous black box device on airplanes.

So, what information does the automotive EDR record? Well, most will record whether the driver had their foot on the brake or on the gas pedal at the time of the crash. Also, typically, they will record the car speed at the time of impact, whether passengers were wearing seatbelts, and whether airbags deployed.

The data is considered reliable in most situations. Trial court judges will allow evidence of the data recorded at the time of the crash if a qualified expert is available to decipher the data recorded by the device.

Event Data Recorder information has been admitted in both civil cases and criminal cases.

Does the EDR information serve any other purpose besides determining what happened at the time of the crash? In most cars, the data is accessible by mechanics to help them diagnose what may be going wrong with the vehicle. So the EDR may be accessed when you take your car in for routine repairs.

An EDR device will only record for a set time surrounding an event. In some situations, it might be 20 to 30 seconds worth of data.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration periodically makes rules specifying the types of data collected by an EDR. In addition to the categories of data already noted, the EDR will collect data on side-to-side acceleration, rearward acceleration, driver steering input, electronic stability control systems engagement, and antilock brake activity.

So if a car has EDR information, how do you access the information? This is where things get tricky. A device is required to download the data, and then it has to be analyzed. Additionally, it’s essential to make sure that the data is not tampered with at the time of download or at any other time before or after download.

It is essential to hire someone capable of interpreting the data correctly.

For example, if the car is on an icy road, and the wheels are spinning, but the vehicle is not getting traction, the recorder may show a faster wheel speed than the actual vehicle speed. Conversely, suppose the wheels are locked up, and the vehicle is sliding on ice. In that case, the wheel speed may suggest no car motion while the car is gliding along at a rapid pace.

Consequently, top-notch experts will be required to analyze the data stored in the EDR and compare it to the actual physical evidence of a crash scene to draw reasonable conclusions.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth