Definitions[edit | edit source]

An event data recorder (EDR) is

a device or function in a vehicle that records the vehicle's dynamic time-series data during the time period just prior to a crash event (e.g., vehicle speed vs. time) or during a crash event . . . intended for retrieval after the crash event.[1]
an electronic sensor installed in a motor vehicle that records certain technical information about a vehicle's operational performance for a few seconds immediately prior to and during a crash.[2]

Overview[edit | edit source]

"EDRs are not new. Flight data recorders, also widely referred to as "black boxes," have been installed in aircraft since the 1950s and are used after accidents to reconstruct the critical moments of a plane's operations. Event recorders are also in use in railroad locomotives and large cargo and passenger ships. But the mandatory installation of EDRs in passenger cars has been controversial in Congress."[3]

"The EDR is the key electronic component in recording an accident. It accumulates data from a dedicated sensor or, sometimes, from a vehicle network. Passenger vehicle EDRs are usually incorporated within an air bag electronic controller. A crash-sensing algorithm decides within 15-50 milliseconds (msec) after an impact when the airbag should be inflated, based on model-specific criteria stored in a sensor. The algorithm also determines when the pre-crash data will be recorded."[4]

"EDRs record a several-second snapshot of (1) pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status, such as vehicle speed, (2) driver inputs like steering and breaking, (3) seatbelt usage and airbag deployment, and (4) post-crash data such as the activation of an automatic collision notification system. . . . Most EDRs in automobiles and light trucks are part of the restraint system control module, which senses impact accelerations and determines what restraints (airbags and/or seatbelt tensioners) to deploy."[5]

Privacy[edit | edit source]

"The [EDR] data is not remotely transmitted outside the car and is not retrieved by car manufacturers without the car owner's consent. * * * "[A]utomotive EDRs do not record audio, video, or location information. The data recorded from an EDR must be directly accessed by a technician, and requires physical access to a vehicle. Technicians connect the appropriate scanning tool to the vehicle's Diagnostic Link Connector, which is usually found under the vehicle's dashboard. While there has been some debate about the use of data collected by EDRs, states have moved quickly to clarify the owner's control over this information. Fourteen states have enacted laws that restrict access to EDRs and with some exceptions, require that any data collected from an EDR can only be downloaded with the consent of the vehicle's owner.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

External resources[edit | edit source]

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