Using Black Box Crash Data to Reconstruct Vehicle Collisions
Today, numerous cars and trucks record large amounts of electronic data that can be tapped into when determining the events leading up to a motor vehicle collision. The accident reconstruction experts at Collision Reconstruction Consulting routinely download and analyze crash-related data from event data recorders.
An Event Data Recorder (EDR) is also referred to as a black box. It stores electronic data that provides vehicle and occupant information, enabling forensic engineers to understand what happened in a motor vehicle incident. The features and benefits of a black box simplify the process of reconstructing an accident and arriving at objective conclusions. Accident reconstructionists can utilize black box data to collect details such as a vehicle’s speed and acceleration, the application of brakes, steering activity, and whether occupants wore seat belts. They can download information from the black box to evaluate what happened and understand the operation of the vehicle’s safety systems.
Generally, there are three places where the black boxes are mounted in the vehicles – under the driver’s seat, passenger front seat, or under the center console. When interpreting data, it is essential to consult an accident reconstruction expert with a certification in EDR data retrieval and analysis. Inspections often involve specialists connecting to the vehicle’s Diagnostic Link Connection port, after which they download information from a microchip onto a laptop.
EDR technology plays an increasingly integral role in facilitating objective physical evidence that helps collision reconstruction professionals make fair and ethical determinations. Today, many advanced modules record a wide range of operational data that forensic engineers use. There are two types of recorded crash events. The first is a non-deployment event that records data without employing airbags. Next, we have a deployment event that utilizes airbags. The data may consist of both pre-crash and crash data, which experts store and cannot override. However, note that the data is stored in the airbag control module of the vehicle, and when the module is replaced after a deployment event, the data is no longer be accessed in the vehicle. It is therefore important to preserve the vehicle until the event data recorder is downloaded.
Over 97% of vehicles manufactured today are equipped with an event data recorder. A list of passenger vehicles that are supported with EDR data can be downloaded here.