The Accuracy and Sensitivity of Event Data Recorders in Low-Speed Collisions 2002-01-0679
Collision data stored in the airbag sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) of 1996 and newer GM vehicles have become available to accident investigators through the Vetronix Crash Data Retrieval system. In this study, two experiments were performed to investigate the accuracy and sensitivity of the speed change reported by the SDM in low-speed crashes. First, two SDM-equipped vehicles were subjected to 260 staged frontal collisions with speed changes below 11 km/h. Second, the SDMs were removed from the vehicles and exposed to a wide variety of collision pulses on a linear motion sled. In all of the vehicle tests, the speed change reported by the SDM underestimated the actual speed change of the vehicle. Sled testing revealed that the shape, duration and peak acceleration of the collision pulse affected the accuracy of the SDM-reported speed change. Data from the sled tests were then used to evaluate how the SDM-reported speed change was calculated. A threshold trigger model that ignored part of the collision pulse explained the difference between the actual and SDM-reported speed change in the vehicle tests. Accident investigators who use SDM collision data to determine the severity of low-speed collisions must account for the error present in the SDM-reported speed change.