Odds Are Those Crashed Cars Have a Lot They Want to Tell You

It's in the Details

from Dial Engineering

Welcome to another edition of It’s in the Details, a short newsletter intended to provide helpful information for those in the litigation industry who deal with forensic engineering experts and their work.

The vehicles involved in most crashes are treasure troves of electronic data

As you may be aware, most road-going passenger vehicles produced in the last twenty-plus years possess some type of electronic device which can record crash data, such as the Event Data Recorder (EDR, or “black box”) feature built into a car’s airbag control module. EDR’s are intended to record a limited set of data specifically relating to a collision if certain thresholds are met.

However, what many people don't know is that many modern passenger cars are also capable of recording a wealth of additional information that goes beyond what the EDR will record.

  • Many Toyota and Lexus vehicles manufactured since about 2014 can record additional information beyond and independent of what the EDR will record in the form of their “Vehicle Control History” (VCH)
  • Many modern General Motors, Toyota, Jeep, and Subaru vehicles can record still images leading up to a crash via the forward-facing cameras in their Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  • Some General Motors vehicles equipped with the OnStar service will beam their GPS position over time, going back many minutes before a collision event
  • Depending on how they are configured, modern Tesla vehicles can record full motion video from multiple cameras located on the exterior of the vehicle, independent of whether or not a crash occurred
  • Many major brands of automobiles can store a wealth of information in their infotainment systems, such as GPS route data, wheel speeds, driver control inputs, and smartphone connectivity and communications

So you can see that there might be a bunch of invaluable data stored within each car involved in a crash. However, time is of the essence in collecting such data as it can be quickly lost due to the vehicles being repaired, scrapped, or exported from the country.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out to us with any technical questions you might have about this or other topics related to forensic engineering.

Dial Engineering

10736 Jefferson Blvd #519

Culver City, CA 90230

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