The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says current UK and European Union (EU) laws governing the accessibility of vehicle ‘black box’ evidence must be changed to improve safety, reduce costs, speed up legal proceedings and save lives.
TRL is calling for an update to UK and EU legislation whereby Event Data Recorder (EDR) data must be made available to authorities, insurers and road safety researchers. Introduced in the 1970s, EDRs are present in most current new vehicles. Essentially, an EDR is the automotive equivalent of an airplane’s ‘black box’ that records a range of data from safety systems fitted to the vehicle in the seconds before, during and after a collision. Typically used to record information about road traffic collisions, EDR data helps provide accurate and reliable information of the actions taken prior in the pre-collision phase.
Unfortunately, in the UK and EU, the accessibility of EDR data is restricted due to a lack of up-to-date legislation. Currently, manufacturers are not required to provide authorities, road safety researchers or vehicle owners with EDR data. Experts within TRL believe that an update to the legislation regarding the accessibility of EDR data is long overdue. The organization notes that EDR data will become even more important in a future of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) as their control systems grow increasingly complex. As driverless vehicles advance from semi- to fully-automated, it will be vital to understand the data of in-vehicle safety systems and what the vehicle or a safety driver was doing prior to a collision.
TRL says regulating the access of EDR data in the automotive industry will help advance collision reconstruction and the industry’s understanding of vehicle design and safety to that of the aviation industry. The USA model of EDR data regulation is already showing how useful this information can be. TRL is calling for legislation to be reviewed to allow police, insurers, the courts and road safety researchers access to EDR collision data. The organization recommends that a minimum standard is agreed to require manufacturers to make EDR data available to authorities. Access to this data will improve experts’ understanding of the causation of collisions and provide significant benefits to safety by advancing future vehicle design.
“Physical evidence and CCTV footage is vital in the reconstruction of road traffic collisions. However, EDR’s provide important information about the movements of a vehicle before, during and after a collision event that, in many cases, could not be obtained from any other source,” explained Dean Beaumont, accident reconstruction consultant for TRL’s expert witness team. “When analyzed by a suitably qualified expert, EDR data allows for a detailed and more accurate investigation into road traffic collisions, specifically in regard to causation and liability. The advantage of EDR’s are that they are already installed in the car; it is simply a case of being able to access the data. The USA are far ahead of other regions when it comes to EDRs, as the data is regulated and access is also governed by legislation.”