From July 7, all vehicles will be equipped with a "black box"

From July 7, 2024, all new vehicles sold in the EU will be required to have a special device called the "Event Data Recorder" (EDR), which records certain data in the vehicle before, during, and after an accident, and can assist in the analysis of traffic accidents. By analogy with a similar device (which is actually orange) in airplanes, the term "black box" has become commonly used.

The introduction of this EDR system was "scheduled" for July 7, 2022, when the European Parliament adopted the "General Safety Regulation" (GSR), general principles on safety with the aim of reducing the number of fatalities in traffic accidents by 2030.

The GSR was adopted based on Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 of the European Parliament and the Council, which mandates that motor vehicles of categories M1 and N1 be equipped with event data recorders (EDR) from July 6, 2022, for new vehicle types, and from July 7, 2024, for all new vehicles.

At that time, it was reported that thanks to advanced systems in vehicles, as well as other measures taken by EU member states from 2008 to 2022, the number of fatalities on the roads of this community was reduced by 50 percent.

During this period, the European automotive industry invested 59 billion euros in research, development, and installation of these systems.

With the adoption of the GSR in 2022, specific systems (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems - ADAS) that will have to be installed in vehicles were precisely defined, and deadlines for each were specified. These include, in addition to the "black box," detection of vehicles coming from the 'blind spot,' lane departure warning, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, systems that will detect pedestrians and cyclists, and similar systems already being installed in modern cars.

How does the EDR actually work?

It consists of a set of sensors, an entire data collection system (but only those approved by Regulation 160 UN, which guarantees personal data protection). This system continuously records vehicle data, but only stores it when a certain activation threshold is crossed. If the sensors detect an accident, for example, or if the vehicle's control unit signals that a collision is imminent. The recordings are very short: 5 seconds before and 300 milliseconds after the accident.

The system will automatically start collecting data when certain factors change. For example, a speed change of more than 8 km/h within 150 milliseconds, activation of seatbelt tensioners, airbag deployment. Interestingly, the EDR is usually part of the airbag control module, as it already transmits acceleration sensor information. Data is stored locally in the vehicle and must not be accessible via an online connection. Data can be read through the onboard diagnostics (OBD) interface or through the airbag control unit if the OBD is destroyed in the accident. The stored data includes driving speed, throttle position, engine RPM, ABS and stability control activity, and steering angle. Data is automatically erased after a certain time, no longer than 30 days unless an accident occurs.

In case of an accident, changes in longitudinal and lateral speed, the status of the driver's and passenger's seatbelts, airbag warning light, and airbag activation time are recorded.

It is clear that access to "black box" data, just like those from airplanes, will not be available to just anyone. EDR data will be "read" by court order or prosecutor's request, with the help of authorized experts who will draw certain conclusions based on the data.

It is important to emphasize that the automotive "black box," unlike those in airplanes, will not record voices or sounds from the cabin and that it cannot be deactivated (it is a networked system in the vehicle), but unfortunately, it is technically difficult to install in older cars.

The most important role of the EDR system is preventive, as it is believed to significantly influence driver behavior in traffic.

Photo: freepik