Analysis of Event Data Recorder Survivability in Crashes with Fire, Immersion, and High Delta-V 2015-01-1444
Event data recorders (EDRs) must survive regulatory frontal and side compliance crash tests if installed within a car or light truck built on or after September 1, 2012. Although previous research has shown that EDR data are surviving these tests, little is known about whether EDRs are capable of surviving collisions of higher delta-v, or crashes involving vehicle fire or immersion. The goal of this study was to determine the survivability of light vehicle EDRs in real world fire, immersion, and high change in velocity (delta-v) cases. The specific objective was to identify the frequency of these extreme events and to determine the EDR data download outcome when subject to damage caused by these events.
This study was performed using three crash databases: the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the National Automotive Sampling System / Crashworthiness Data System (NASS/CDS), and the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS). Fire, immersion, and high delta-v crashes were relatively rare. Vehicles were exposed to vehicle fire and immersion in less than 1% of all crashes. Similarly, EDRs were subject to high delta-v in less than 1% of frontal crashes (≥ 56 kph) and less than 5% of side crashes (≥ 34 kph). Among the EDRs exposed to these extreme events, there is evidence in the aforementioned databases that indicates EDR data can survive. An EDR was considered to survive if the investigators were able to read the data. These results, however, are accompanied by cases where EDRs could not be downloaded, but the available data does not specifically implicate the EDR as the damaged vehicle component that prevented download.