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The Role Electronic Control Modules Play after an Auto Accident

By: Anapol Weiss

The central nervous system of a modern day motor vehicle is the Electronic Control Module (ECM). ECMs monitor the various sensors in cars and trucks, processing their information to make decisions about fuel management, brake activation, airbag deployment, and more. They also run diagnostics on the systems of the vehicle and alert the driver to problems if necessary.

If you have been injured in a car or truck wreckt, data from an EDR may help to tell your story. Contact Anapol Weiss to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss the accident and get your legal questions answered.

ECMs store the data that they receive in Event Data Recorders (EDRs). Today, almost all cars are equipped with EDRs; a 2015 bill standardized EDRs and required car manufacturers to install them in all new vehicles. They act as “black boxes” and record data about where the car is and what it is doing at all times. The EDRs do not save all the information that they record; most of them record over old information, only saving data if the vehicle is involved in an auto collision. If an accident occurs, the EDR will save the data from the seconds before, during, and after the incident. Data saved includes information about speed, revolutions per minute (RMP), sudden deceleration, seat belt usage, and air bag deployment.

Data collected by EDRs can serve a variety of purposes; they can tell the story of what happened during an auto accident if witnesses are unable or unwilling to supply the true and complete facts. Both police and insurance companies may request the data to use in the course of their investigations. Records from EDRs can be invaluable tools in the crash reconstruction analysis following an accident. Data on an EDR will generally be accepted as evidence in criminal prosecutions and civil litigation.

The 2015 Driver Privacy Act mandated that information stored on an EDR is the property of the owner of the vehicle. Many states have laws providing that EDR data may only be collected with the consent of the vehicle owner or policyholder (with some exceptions). However, each state’s laws regarding EDR data is different; many states allow court orders to require vehicle owners to turn over the data after auto accidents.