Browse Publications Technical Papers 2001-01-0804

Conflicting Uses of Data from Private Vehicle Data Systems 2001-01-0804

The disclosure by General Motors in the spring of 1999 that private passenger vehicles record crash event data has lead to numerous proposals for the use of this data for engineering, crash research, liability, enforcement, traffic safety and medical uses.1 Many of these applications are traditional “static” uses where the time frame in which the data is collected is not critical to the use (within the bounds of a few days or weeks). Medical use of the data, however, for activation of EMS services and triage is a new “dynamic” use that requires immediate access to the data in order to achieve results.
Currently the static and dynamic uses of the data may conflict, with use in one area potentially inhibiting use in the other. This arises in principal part because of protections generally provided to data secured and maintained incident to providing medical care. The lead author of this paper is a member of the NHTSA's Event Data Recorder Working Group serving as a representative of the state of Massachusetts. In this paper, the authors are expressing their own opinions regarding the uses of the crash data.
The purpose of the paper is to illustrate the challenges and opportunities that are presented by the introduction of crash event data recorded from private vehicles. Issues covered include:
  • The philosophical divide between different technologies: systems that record crash event data within the vehicle (EDR type) versus Telematic (ACN type) systems in which no data is permanently stored in the vehicle.
  • Viewpoints on the ownership of the data (driver, vehicle owner, manufacturer or government), and how this fits with previous precedent for similar data such as 911 calls and patient care reports.
  • Technical information on the current vehicle data systems.
  • Data collection efforts underway from vehicle data systems.
  • The potential benefits and challenges for medical use of the data including summary information from an analysis of EMS & Air Medical utilization in Massachusetts. The potential conflicts between enforcement and medical uses with respect to medical records and privacy rights are also discussed.
  • The potential challenges to enforcement use if not all vehicles are equally equipped with recording systems.


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