Road crash investigation experts have called for the law to be changed to provide increased access to information contained within in-vehicle event data recorders (EDRs).

TRL The Future of Transport LogoThe technology is fitted to most new vehicles – it will become mandatory in all new cars, vans and HGVs from mid-2022 under new European Union legislation and is typically used to record information about road traffic collisions. EDR data helps provide accurate and reliable information of the actions taken by drivers in the pre-collision phase.

However, in the UK and the European Union, the accessibility of EDR data is restricted due to a lack of up-to-date legislation, according to TRL, the UK-based global centre for innovation in transport.

Essentially, EDRs are a black box that records a range of data from safety systems fitted to a vehicle in the seconds before, during and after a collision. That information can include indicated vehicle speed, engine revs, engine throttle performance and accelerator and brake pedal use.

Currently, motor manufacturers are not required to provide authorities, road safety researchers or vehicle owners with EDR data. But, TRL says legislation governing the accessibility of vehicle EDR evidence must be changed to improve safety, reduce costs, speed up legal proceedings and save lives. It wants EDR collision data to be made available to the police, insurers, the courts and road safety researchers.

What’s more, TRL argues, that EDR data will become even more important in a connected and automated future. As driverless vehicles advance from semi to fully automated over the next decade or so, it will be vital to understand the data of in-vehicle safety systems and what the vehicle or a safety driver was doing prior to a collision, according to the organisation.

The retrieved data can prove helpful, according to TRL, in being able to verify or dismiss driver accounts, as well as confirming the operating conditions of a vehicle immediately prior to a collision.