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Event Data Recorders in Trucks and Cars Can Prove How a Collision Really Happened

event data recorders and accidents

Let’s say you are stopped at an intersection on a quiet back road. You take a glance to each side, and proceed to make a left-hand turn. The next thing you know, your airbag has deployed, your arms are scratched up and your car is sitting on the side of the road, facing the opposite direction. The cops ask you what happened, and you cannot remember – but another person at the scene claims you made a left while he was going through the intersection, and that you caused the accident.

In a scenario like this, where perhaps the evidence cannot definitely point to which driver was liable for the crash, the insurance company, an accident reconstructionist or your injury attorney may ask to see the data from the Event Data Recorder, or EDR, in your vehicle. An EDR (also called a “black box”) is a piece of tech installed in many cars which is activated by your supplemental restraint controllers – the controllers which activate your seatbelt or airbags. The EDR can record the engine speed, the vehicle speed, the position of the throttle, the seatbelt engagement switch: it all depends on the make and model of your car. Some vehicles save 5 seconds’ worth of data; others might store 25 seconds’ worth. This data can help us determine whether you cut off the other vehicle, or if the driver was speeding, and then attempted to hit the brakes to avoid a collision.

For commercial trucks, the tech is a bit different. Most semis don’t come equipped with airbags, but because of the strict regulations on their emissions, “all modern truck engines use an electronic engine control module (ECM) that monitors engine and vehicle operating parameters. The primary function of the ECM is to control the engine, but it can also serve the secondary function of recording engine and vehicle information.”

Making a case for another driver’s liability after a crash

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has advocated the use of EDRs since 1997, claiming “EDRs could provide information that is very valuable to understanding crashes, and which can be used in a variety of ways to improve motor vehicle safety.” And this is true –but all technology is subject to glitches or malfunctions, and not all recorders will capture data in all circumstances.

Because of this, it is critical that an EDR not be the only piece of evidence your attorney uses. Eye witness accounts, the condition of the roads, videos or photos pulled form traffic cameras and medical reports are all important pieces of evidence, and your attorney will use all of them (when applicable) in conjunction with the EDR’s information to build a case for another driver’s liability.

Dealing with the after effects of a serious car crash can be challenging; finding the right injury lawyer to represent your needs shouldn’t be. Crandall & Pera Law provides comprehensive representation on behalf of car accident victims throughout Kentucky and Ohio. To speak with a member of our Kentucky team, please call 877.651.7764; in Ohio, please call 877.686.8879. You can also fill out our contact form to request a consultation.

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