Event Data Recorders

By Stuart Cappus

Most modern vehicles come equipped with Event Data Recorders (EDRs). Their job is to record various pieces of information about a vehicle’s operation in the seconds before, during and after an accident. They are usually triggered by the vehicle’s air bags deploying. Once triggered, they record a number of vehicle parameters including speed, both forward and lateral, acceleration, braking and steering. After an accident, the information recorded on an EDR can be downloaded and analyzing by accident reconstructionists or engineers to determine what the vehicle was doing in the lead-up to a collision.

EDRs are increasingly being used in ICBC and other motor vehicle accident claims where liability for an accident is at issue. This is because the parties or witnesses, if there are any, either don’t know or can’t be entirely relied on to accurately convey those things recorded by EDRs. For instance, someone may have sustained a brain injury and have no recollection of the accident. Someone may not have been paying attention to those details. Someone’s memory may have faded over time. Someone may have forgotten them. Or someone may simply not be telling the truth. In any of those situations, EDRs can be relied on to provide the court with accurate and impartial evidence on matters important to determining who’s at fault for an accident.

Nevertheless, EDRs are not always right. Indeed, studies have shown that, in some circumstances, EDRs can over- or under-report the data they are tasked with recording. Because of that, a certain amount of caution must be exercised when relying on EDRs to ensure that the data recorded on them is consistent with the physical evidence at the scene of the accident and witness testimony deemed to be reliable and credible.