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EDR: High-Tech Evidence in Motor Vehicle Crashes

Posted on in Car Accidents

Illinois personal injury attorney, Illinois car crash lawyer, Lake County car accident attoreny,For years, aviation crash investigators have relied on the so-called “black box” to provide critical data information which may provide clues as to how the accident occurred. As of last September, all new cars sold in the United States also have an Event Data Recorder (EDR) that may provide critical evidence in a motor vehicle crash case.

EDRs first began appearing in passenger cars in the 1970s. By 2005, more than half these vehicles had some kind of EDR. Most of these first-generation devices only collected limited information, such as airbag deployment. But the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recently enacted a rule that, beginning in September 2014, all new passenger cars must have an advanced EDR.

What it Records

Next-generation EDRs record a wide range of information that provides a snapshot of activity for the five to 20 seconds immediately preceding a collision. This information includes:

  • The force of the crash, from both front and lateral directions;
  • Vehicle speed;
  • Crash duration,;
  • Engine RPM;
  • Accelerator position;
  • Steering wheel angle;
  • Brake use;
  • Vehicle roll angle;
  • Stability control engagement;
  • Seat belt use;
  • Front seat positions;
  • Airbag deployment;
  • Number of occupants; and
  • The number of crashes. (Was there a primary and secondary collision, or only one?)

The items on this list represent the legal minimum. Some EDRs can be configured to record even more data.

Many of these events, especially including seat belt use, brake application, force of the crash and vehicle speed, have a direct bearing on determining fault for the collision and subsequent damages to people or property. Other information, such as air bag deployment, may be useful in a products liability action.

Preserving Evidence

If the EDR is lost or destroyed before an attorney can download the information, critical evidence may be unavailable when it is needed most. So, an attorney can send a spoliation letter to a vehicle’s owner, which put the person or company on notice that the EDR, and other crash evidence, must be preserved. Once the evidence is secured, an attorney can either get a court order, or the owner’s permission, to inspect the EDR and download the data.

If you were hurt in a car crash, contact an experienced Lake County personal injury attorney right away so evidence can be preserved for later use.
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