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The Growing Role of Event Data Recorders in Accident Reconstruction

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Event data recorders (EDRs) are present in the vast majority of modern passenger vehicles, and they are also present in heavy trucks. Advancements in technology surrounding EDRs, including the quantity and types of data collected from multiple sources within a vehicle, require accident reconstructionists to keep up with new trends and techniques for accessing and interpreting event data. Whether it comes from an airbag control module in a car, the engine or transmission module in a tractor-trailer, or the infotainment system connected to a smartphone, our consultants are exploring, testing, and publishing in these areas of expertise as the technology evolves.
The following peer-reviewed, scientific publications demonstrate our expertise in the use of Event Data Recorders as their role expands in accident reconstruction.

Performance of Event Data Recorders Found in Toyota Airbag Control Modules in High Severity Frontal Oblique Offset Crash Tests

This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the performance of Event Data Recorders (EDRs) found in the Airbag Control Modules (ACMs), as tested in support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Frontal Oblique Offset Program. In addition to analyzing data from a high severity oblique frontal impact test in which the vehicle was struck by a moving deformable barrier, the authors also examine the results of EDR data downloaded from two 2015 model year Toyota Highlanders, and the results of EDR reported change in velocity (delta-v), to vehicle mounted accelerometers and reference instrumentation.

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Speed Analysis of Yawing Passenger Vehicles Following a Tire Tread Detachment

The Critical Speed Formula has long been used by accident reconstructionists for estimating a vehicle’s speed at the beginning of yaw tire marks. This paper presents yaw testing of vehicles with tread removed from tires at various locations. The research here extends the Critical Speed Formula to include yawing vehicles following a tread detachment event and analyzes the inputs and guidelines for use of the formula for these tread detachment scenarios.

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An Introduction to the Forensic Acquisition of Passenger Vehicle Infotainment and Telematics Systems Data

A third-party system has been introduced that allows crash investigators and reconstructionists to access, preserve and analyze data from infotainment and telematics systems found in passenger vehicles. These systems in select vehicles retain information and event data from cellphones and other vehicle-connected devices, vehicle events and navigation data in the form of tracklogs. This paper presents an introduction to the type of data that may be retained and the methods for performing data acquisitions.

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A Compendium of Passenger Vehicle Event Data Recorder Literature and Analysis of Validation Studies

The authors of this paper compiled 187 peer-reviewed studies, textbooks, legal opinions, governmental rulemaking policies, industry publications and presentations pertaining to event data recorders, including 64 that contained testing data. The combined results from these studies highlight unique observations of event data recorder system testing and demonstrate the observed performance of original equipment event data recorders in passenger vehicles.

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Data Acquisition using Smart Phone Applications

This paper examines the reliability of the data reported through publically available smart phone applications and their potential to be useful in certain conditions where monitoring and recording vehicle or pedestrian movement is needed. The authors found that the results from testing show that recording the motion of a vehicle or pedestrian over a long duration of time, greater than 10 seconds, with minimal changes in velocity can be properly documented by the use of a smart phone.

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Using Data from a DriveCam Event Recorder to Reconstruct a Vehicle-to-Vehicle Impact

A DriveCam unit is an aftermarket, in-vehicle video and data recorder. When the unit senses accelerations over a preset threshold, an event is triggered and the unit records video from two camera views, accelerations along three directions, and the vehicle speed with a GPS sensor. This paper reports a method for analyzing data from a DriveCam unit to determine impact speeds and velocity changes in vehicle-to-vehicle impacts.

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The Misunderstood Witness - Event Data Recorders for Heavy Vehicles

A bus rollover crash in late 1999 became one of the most significant investigations regarding commercial vehicle accidents. This precedent setting accident demonstrated how Heavy Vehicle Event Data Recorders (HVEDRs) allowed investigators to learn, with great precision, the details leading up to the rollover that could not have been known using only physical evidence and traditional accident reconstruction methods. This paper reports how, even years later, the use of HVEDRs in accident reconstruction is still largely underutilized and misunderstood.

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Automotive Event Data Recorders Ushering in a New Era of Accident Reconstruction

When discussing automotive Event Data Recorders, comparisons are often drawn to the flight data recorders, “black boxes,” found in modern aircraft. Since a 2012 federal agency ruling set a uniform standard for accuracy, collection, storage and survivability of recorded data as well as providing a commercially available data retrieval tool to access this data in automotive EDRs, research has shown this technology to be highly accurate and invaluable for the accident reconstruction industry. This paper explores how the use of EDRs is changing the face of accident reconstruction.

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Operation of the Eaton VORAD Collision Warning System and Analysis of the Recorded Data

The Eaton VORAD Collision Warning System is utilized by many commercial trucking companies to improve and monitor vehicle and driver safety. It is equipped with forward and side radar sensors that detect the presence and movements of vehicles around the truck to alert the driver of other vehicles' proximity. This paper will discuss the operation of the VORAD system and offer analysis and interpretation of the recorded data, such that an investigator presented with Eaton VORAD data in the course of an accident investigation has a thorough understanding of the system and its capabilities.

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Mid-Range Data Acquisition Units Using GPS and Accelerometers

The method of obtaining position, distance, speed, and acceleration data through smart phone applications is advantageous because the devices are lightweight, affordable, and easy to set up and use. The mid-level applications, such as basic fitness applications, can potentially acquire better data than basic applications because they differ in the way they sample the data and report it. This paper further develops previous research on the accuracy of basic fitness applications in tracking position and elevation using the GPS and accelerometer technology contained within the smart phone itself.

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This publication is for educational and general information purposes only. It may contain errors and is provided as is. It is not intended as specific advice, legal, or otherwise. Opinions and views are not necessarily those of J.S. Held or its affiliates and it should not be presumed that J.S. Held subscribes to any particular method, interpretation, or analysis merely because it appears in this publication. We disclaim any representation and/or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, quality, or applicability of any of the contents. You should not act, or fail to act, in reliance on this publication and we disclaim all liability in respect to such actions or failure to act. We assume no responsibility for information contained in this publication and disclaim all liability and damages in respect to such information. This publication is not a substitute for competent legal advice. The content herein may be updated or otherwise modified without notice.

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