The usefulness of event data recorders in car accidents

An event data recorder (EDR) is what consumers know as the “black boxes” generally referred to in airplane accidents. What many people may not know is that approximately 91.6% of new passenger vehicles manufactured since 2006 already have EDRs installed. The types of data recorded by EDRs have developed a lot since the modules were first implemented. Today, EDRs may be used to add to and corroborate findings from traditional investigations into car accidents in Tennessee.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggested that it becomes mandatory for all passenger vehicles, SUVs and light trucks manufactured from 2015 onwards to have EDRs installed. EDRs can record important information just before and/or during a serious accident. The recorded data can be downloaded to provide information on the performance of safety systems as well as pre-accident information such as engine and vehicle speed.

The EDRs in newer vehicle models record information during front, side and rear collisions and rollover accidents. Not only can the EDR of a vehicle validate the findings of a crash investigator, but it can provide data not available through traditional investigations. This makes the data from an EDR very valuable in both criminal and civil investigations into car accidents.

However, the information contained inside of an EDR belongs to the owner of the vehicle. An owner has to consent to access to the data, or a court order must be obtained. Tennessee victims seriously injured in car accidents due to the negligence or reckless driving of another party may find that the attorney assisting them in a personal injury claim requires the EDR data from both vehicles. The data obtained by the attorney may provide the necessary proof to successfully litigate the claim.  

Source:, “Event data recorders Q&As”, Accessed on Sep. 15, 2015




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