Airbag systems have been available in passenger cars in the U.S. since the early to mid-1970’s when they were first offered as an option in several General Motors vehicles.  Since then, they have saved many lives and have significantly reduced occupant injuries.

Despite efforts by the federal government to educate the public regarding the recording capability of these systems, many people do not realize that the module which controls the deployment of the vehicle’s airbags also is capable of storing data related to a crash in certain types of rapid deceleration events.  An event data recorder is a supplemental function of the airbag control module, which is commonly referred to as a “black box”.

The amount of crash data recorded is vehicle specific. Most systems are capable of storing pre-crash data for several seconds prior to the onset of the crash. The recorded data usually includes vehicle speed, brake use, anti-lock braking system status, throttle application and seatbelt use. Some systems provide information concerning the use of cruise control and steering wheel input as well. The federal government has recently standardized the type of information that is recorded.

Event data can be a valuable tool to engineers in the investigation of vehicle accidents when it is properly analyzed and understood. Our engineers have been trained and certified in the proper data imaging methods and have the experience necessary to utilize this information to supplement a crash reconstruction.

For information on the data available from a specific vehicle, please contact one of our professional engineers at 865-281-0068. We will be happy to assist you.


2908-J Tazewell Pike, Knoxville TN 37918   -   Phone: 865-281-0068   -   Fax: 865-281-0022   -   www.efgforensics.com