Virginia: Car Accidents – a Lawyer’s EDR

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Wikipedia chronicles that an event data recorder (“EDR”) is a “simple, tamper-proof, read-write memory device” that is installed in most recent automobiles to record crash-related information, an estimated 85% as of 2010. It is similar to the “black box” in airplanes. Id.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) issued rulemaking in 2006 and updates subsequently. 49 CFR Part 563. NHTSA did not require auto manufacturers to install EDRs in autos – since the overwhelming trend already was voluntary installation of them – but it did require that by September 1, 2012, all EDRs record at least 15 types of crash data, plus set standards for 30 other types of crash data if the EDRs were configured for them. Id.

Wikipedia reports: “Some of the required [NHTSA] crash data include pre-crash speed, engine throttle, brake use, measured changes in velocity (Delta-V), driver safety belt use, airbag warning lamp status, and airbag deployment times.” EDR data can be downloaded through the auto’s diagnostic link connector (“DLC”) or “on the bench” post-removal, using the Bosch Diagnostic Crash Data Retrieval System. Id.

Public use of EDRs is controversial, creating constitutional privacy concerns and evidentiary issues. However, Mr. Waterman expects EDRs to become fundamental and often dispositive evidence in vehicle crash cases.

Mr. Waterman has handled vehicle accidents for over 30 years. His practice also includes medical malpractice and other wrongful death, brain injury, and other serious personal injuries.