Understanding the conditions of road crashes supports the assessment of how vehicles’ safety equipment performs, which can help to improve these systems to reinforce safety on the road. A new UN Regulation which entered into force on 30 September 2021 will introduce a major breakthrough in information gathering about road crashes with the introduction of Event Data Recorders (EDR) aboard vehicles.
With the mandatory fitment of Event Data Recorders, comparable to some extent to the "black-boxes" used in aviation, investigators will be able to reconstruct the vehicle crash from 5 seconds prior to the event until the vehicle comes to a stillstand after the crash. This will provide a better understanding of the circumstances in which crashes and injuries occur and will facilitate the development of safer vehicle designs.
The new UN Regulation No. 160 on Event Data Recorders, adopted by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations in March 2021, requires the vehicle to store information about the activation and performance of numerous active and passive safety systems of the vehicle, as well as basic information of the vehicle's situation prior to the crash such as vehicle speed, engine throttle (accelerator pedal) activation, service brake activation, safety belt status for driver and front passenger, air bag warning light and eventual deactivation of front passenger airbag. It will also capture the activity of active safety systems such as ABS or Electronic stability control, steering inputs; as well as the activation of passive safety elements such as airbags, safety-belt pre-tensioners, and load limiters.
Furthermore, the movement of the vehicle, its acceleration and deceleration including turning or rolling during a crash will be available to help reconstruct crashes.
The analysis of the conditions of a crash do not aim primarily at identifying wrongdoings but at obtaining evidence of the functioning of the different active and passive safety systems related to the protection of the vehicle's occupants and the other road users involved in the crash. Under the new regulation, recorded data should not be linked to the vehicle identification number or chassis number and thus will allow for anonymised treatment without the possibility of identifying the owner or the holder of a particular vehicle.
In the European Union, the fitment of an Event Data Recorder to new types of passenger cars and vans will be mandatory as of 6 July 2022 and for all new cars and vans as of 7 July 2024. These systems will also be introduced for heavy duty vehicles (HDVs), trucks and buses, in new types an and for all new HDVs as of January 2026 and 2029 respectively.
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About the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations
The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), hosted by UNECE, is the intergovernmental platform responsible for developing the regulatory frameworks regarding the safety and environmental performance of vehicles, their subsystems and parts.
The World Forum manages three Global Agreements on vehicles: 1958 Agreement (UN Regulations); 1998 Agreement (UN Global Technical Regulations); and 1997 Agreement (UN Rules on Periodic Technical Inspections). Any country that is member of the United Nations may participate in the activities of the World Forum and accede to the Agreements.