Automobile Event Data Recorders FAQ

We’ve recently handled several automobile litigation cases where data from an Event Data Recorder is requested or used in court. As more cars are fitted with this device, it’s important to inform consumers how this data is used and recorded. Booth & Koskoff has published an article explaining the EDR device, what data is recorded on an EDR, how that EDR data is used to determine fault in an accident, and how the EDR data can be used in court. If you find yourself involved in an accident and subsequent litigation, here’s a few basic answers to frequently asked questions.

What is an Event Data Recorder?

An event data recorder or EDR is a device installed in some automobiles to record information related to vehicle crashes. It is similar to “black boxes” used on airplanes. [Source]

How is it used?

Just like “black boxes,” EDRs are used after automobile accidents. They are key in assigning fault after an accident. They are now frequently used in litigation after an accident occurs. These devices are used worldwide.

What does it record?

As of this posting (May, 2011) there is no uniformity in data collection. EDRs may record anything from when an airbag was deployed, to whether the seat belts were fastened or brakes were applied.

How long does it hold data?

Typically, EDRs record only a few minutes of data that is constantly overwritten until an accident occurs. That data is then saved on the EDR.

How many cars have an EDR?

Over 60% of 2005 models had an EDR installed, and that percentage grows each year.

For more information, you can read our article “Use and abuse of automobile ‘black boxes'” on the Booth & Koskoff website.