Vehicle Tracking Devices and How They Could Impact Your Claim

excited female driver in carMany newer vehicles today, and even some from 2006 or earlier, may have an event data recorder (EDR) installed. However, most drivers are likely unaware what exactly this device may record or how the collected data may be used if you pursue a claim for compensation after a car accident.

Greg Coleman Law discusses various data tracking devices for vehicles, including the EDR devices that are installed by many car manufacturers today. More importantly, we explain what happens to the collected data, including how it could impact a potential claim.

Does My Car Have an EDR and Can I Disconnect It?

According to AAA,approximately 95 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. today come with an EDR already installed. You dealer should be able to tell you whether there is an EDR in your vehicle, but if he or she cannot, you can also find out by:

  • Checking your vehicle’s manual (all cars after 2012 are required to put this information in your manual)
  • Researching the make and model of your vehicle online

Does your car have airbags? If so, then you are sure to have some form of an EDR installed. These devices were originally implemented to provide manufacturers with information about how and when an airbag deployed during an incident to make them safer and more useful.

Since the EDR is connected to the airbag, disconnecting it is not only difficult, it is also not recommended.

Common Types of EDRs

Most insurance companies offer good driving discounts to their policyholders. However, keeping that discount may depend on your day-to-day driving habits. Even though you may have a clean driving history and received no citations for traffic violations, your discount could still be denied when it comes up for renewal.

Why does this happen? The answer is in the fine print of your good driving enrollment agreement. When you sign up for this program, you are also agreeing to have your driving behavior tracked. This is done through various means, including:

  • A smartphone app that you pair with your vehicle via Bluetooth
  • A direct connection to your car’s diagnostics through its OBD-II port – essentially, a plug-in device
  • More and more often, however, your driving may be tracked using the EDR device that is likely already installed in your car

This data informs your insurer about your driving behavior, determining whether your discount will continue – or your rate is increased based on your assessed risk.

What Information Do EDRs Track and How is it Accessed?

While all EDRs are not alike and do not collect the exact same data, per a regulation passed by the NHTSA in 2012, newer EDRs must track at least 15 data points, including:

  • Acceleration data
  • Airbag deployment data
  • Braking details, such as whether you tried to stop
  • Date and time of the event
  • Engine RPM
  • Force of impact in a crash
  • Forward and lateral crash force
  • Front seat positions (both seats in the front of a vehicle)
  • Number of impacts during a crash
    • Occupant size
    • Phone usage
    • Seatbelt use of both the driver and front seat passenger
    • Speed the vehicle was traveling before impact
    • Stability control
    • The angle of your car’s steering wheel prior to the crash
    • Vehicle rollover – captures the rollover angle

    Recorded data is “looped” on an EDR, which simply means that it is repeatedly written over. In the event of an accident, typically only the first five seconds prior to and after a car crash may be collected. This can help prove you took measures to avoid an accident. However, it can also work against you if, for example, you were excessively speeding.

    Could My Insurer Access My EDR Data Without My Knowledge?

    The use of EDR data in both civil lawsuits and criminal trials has increased since this data has become more reliable for establishing the fault, as well as the innocence, of drivers.

    Those who may still be able to access your vehicle’s EDR data include:

    • Accident reconstruction specialists
    • Auto insurance companies
    • Law enforcement
    • Auto manufacturers
    • Government researchers
    • Fleet management 

    The Driver Privacy Act of 2015 is a federal law that places some limitations on the use of the electronic data collected from your car. Many states are also working to implement laws to help protect the privacy of your vehicle’s data, including how and when it may be used. As of October 12, 2020, 17 states have implemented privacy policies to that effect. Tennessee does not yet have a privacy law for EDR data.

    Contact an Attorney to Represent Your Legal Claim

    If you are injured in a car accident because of the negligent actions of another driver, our team of legal professionals is prepared to help.

    At Greg Coleman Law, our Knoxville car accident lawyers offer a free consultation that carries no risk or obligation to you. The meeting is an opportunity for us to help determine whether you may have a valid case and to answer your questions about possible legal actions you may be eligible to pursue.

    If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or attorney fees to pay out-of-pocket. We do not collect our costs until your potential case reaches a settlement or jury verdict, resulting in compensation for you. If you do not get paid, we do not get paid.

    Greg Coleman Law. Experienced legal help when you need it. (865) 247-0080

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