Cost of Equipment. If Gigantic Insurance Company (GIC) has ten regional
claims processing centers, the trial program shopping cart would look like this.
Two regions (Atlanta serving the eastern
U.S. and Los Angeles serving the western
U.S.) would each own one top-of-the-line Premium EDR Tool (approximately
$10,000 each). Satellite claims personnel;
24 on each side of the country, 48 in total
would each get a basic EDR tool, currently priced just under, let’s say, $3,000 each.
(Both commercially available units can
take the EDR data snapshots. Premium
kits contain additional cables to take the
EDR data snapshots from more seriously
Now add in the cost of training and
the cost to deliver that training to those
so designated, and GIC is up and running (hypothetically speaking) for less
than $190,000. EDR tool hardware is
purchased one time with an annual software renewal required to keep up with
manufacturer changes and data reporting abilities. Considering the above scenario and the cost of today’s claims, the
ROI of implementing an EDR tool could
Application. GIC’s 50 units would be
in constant use. Capturing the data is not
rocket science. The readout is, in effect,
just one more witness statement, untarnished by the ability to remember or in-terprete accurately, or any other human
Recognition of Value. The old adage,
“a picture is worth a thousand words”
has lost much of its luster with the march
of technology, at least a visual image.
To be clear, in the case of EDR there are
no actual pictures. An EDR report is an
objective printout of the crash data—or
perhaps the lack of data if there was no
measurable impact—and has withstood
legal challenges because it rises above
Courts can subpoena EDR data, and
some states collect data under existing laws governing crash investigations.
Moreover, insurance policies might have
contract terms related to data collection
from EDRs. It bears mention that nearly
100 court cases have used EDR data in
the proceedings, showing a willingness to
allow EDR data entered as evidence.
Right to Accessibility. So who owns
the information collected by an EDR?
Can the government, insurance investigators or police just waltz in and download
the data? Ownership of the EDR and its
data is a matter of state law, and such provisions vary considerably. NHTSA considers the owner of the vehicle to be the
owner of the data collected from an EDR.
The owner can give permission to
download EDR data or courts can subpoena EDR data. Big city police agencies or Highway Patrol units that use the
EDR tool collect data under their existing
state laws governing crash investigations.
For crash investigations conducted by
NHTSA, the agency obtains permission
from the vehicle owner before downloading the EDR data. Up-to-date policy language includes contract terms related to
data collection from EDRs.
The Adventures of Rusty Haight
Once a year, usually in late spring, the
Las Vegas Speedway comes to life in a
whole different way. An estimated 200-
accident reconstruction specialists arrive
to witness the latest antics (insanity being
far too harsh of a word) of Rusty Haight,
best described as the human crash dummy. Rusty, at last count, was within near
striking distance (no pun intended) of
hitting (again) the 1,000 crash mark.
Those who know him well were said to
be placing sideline wagers on what crash
#1,000 would look like.
Crashes are staged using a series of donated automobiles, trucks, and (this year)
even a bus. They have been outfitted with
cameras on the inside—to enable a slow
motion view of the body’s movement
upon impact. These cameras have placed
at strategic outside locations to show,
again in slow motion, the sometimes
spectacular crumbling of the vehicles.
Seeing truly is believing.
A car traveling at 15 miles per hour
(mph), straight into a concrete barrier,
has near violent results for the properly
belted driver. Any variation in vector
can change the expected pattern of injury. Two cars, each traveling head-on at
15 mph, have the combined velocity of
about a 30-mph crash; injuries increase
During most staged crashes, Rusty
wears a chest plate, which serves to
spread the force exerted on his body from
the seat belt. In the 15-mph crash, he
left the plate behind—and while he suffered mightily, the pictures were all telling. In slow motion, two things were very
evident. First, instead of the anticipated
back/forth flexion extension, Rusty went
up off of his seat and then rolled over the
seat belt in a left torque. Exploring the
expected biomechanical stressors versus
the actual biomechanical stressors is fodder for another entire article. Suffice it to
say, even the old pros, including Rusty,
learned a thing or two.
EDRs trace their roots to the installation of air bags in vehicles. For air bags to
operate properly in the event of a crash,
automobile manufacturers developed
control units to detect when a crash occurs and deploy the air bag if needed.
Even the earliest EDR technology involved “thinking” units, albeit in a somewhat primeval form. (Input: big impact.
Result: deploy airbags!). As the air bag
control units became more sophisticated,
automobile designers realized data collected from the control units could be
used to further improve air bag design.
To collect these data points, designers
increased the functionally of the air bag
control unit to permit storage of the data
after a crash so it could be downloaded
and analyzed later. They also learned to
store events that were significant enough
to register, but not significant enough to
deploy the airbag.
Automatic collision notification (ACN)
systems and EDRs are separate functions.
ACN is a system that can automatically
notify a third party (such as a 911 operator or a call center) when a car is involved
in a collision. Some cars and light trucks
have ACN devices, such as GM’s On-Star™ system. Some of these systems use
data from the EDR to determine crash
Courts can subpoena
EDR data, and some
states collect data under
existing laws governing