Maryland Car Accident Attorneys: Understanding Event Data RecordersAugust 27, 2012
In 2004, a study sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimated about 40 million passenger vehicles were equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) in the United States.
Event data recorders, or black boxes, became widely known through investigation of catastrophic accidents involving airlines and commercial trucks. Today, there is probably an EDR under your hood, although it is found in small computerized units, not a box.
Most cars have a variety of sensors that feed information to electronic control modules (ECMs). Those modules evaluate and regulate functions throughout your automobile, like speed, braking, and diagnostics. Some of those modules receive and retain information about airbag deployment and speed prior to a collision.
In 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized data collected by vehicle data recording systems. The regulatory goal was identification of data, survival of data after a crash, and uniform use of that data. Recognizing the industry is already moving toward widespread use of EDRs, the rule did not mandate installation in all vehicles.
In representing victims of vehicle accidents, we access truck and automobile onboard information collection systems to investigate actions taken, or mistakes made, just prior to collision.
NHTSA hopes that one day EDRs prove a tool for notification of emergency medical service after a serious crash. Like other forms of data collection, EDRs are here to stay. Time will tell how, and by whom, that information is used in the future.