Black box technology is typically associated with airplanes. The box, which is actually bright orange, is technically called a flight data recorder (FDR), and it collects vital statistics such as a plane’s airspeed, altitude, and fuel supply.
Safety officials hope never to have to use the information from a black box, but in the event of an airplane crash, that’s the first piece of equipment they obtain to help determine what caused the crash.
Most people buying new cars do not know that almost every new vehicle sold these days has its own version of the black box. Safety officials use the information recorded during an auto accident with the hopes of determining why that accident occurred.
Event Data Recorders (EDRs) Now Standard
Almost all new vehicles sold in 2014 and afterward come equipped with an EDR. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended in 1997 that a diagnostic tool be used in vehicles to gather crash information. Even before that time, General Motors was using a scaled-down version to record data on air-bag deployment, but it was four years ago that the federal government put forth strict guidelines on the use of EDRs. Today, an EDR is found in more than 99 percent of all vehicles made, and it can collect a wide variety of information such as speed, acceleration, steering, and braking. The device essentially takes snapshots of what is occurring with the vehicle. Accident investigators can pull information from the EDR to assist in determining what may have caused the accident.
EDRs Can Detect Seat Belt Use During a Car Accident
One major piece of safety information an EDR can record is the use of seat belts, which are vital in protecting occupants. Late last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the most updated numbers it has on seat belt use around the country, and some of the findings are startling. The information is from 2016, the most updated year on these statistics, and at that time, NHTSA notes that seat belt use ranged wildly across the country, everywhere from a little above 70 percent use up to nearly 98 percent use.
So why isn’t there 100 percent use of seat belts?
When it comes specifically to Colorado, our state’s seat belt use has been up and down, but overall use has not been greater than 84 percent in the years researched (2009-2016), with low usage of just 80 percent in 2012. That means that anywhere between 16 percent and 20 percent of vehicle passengers in the state don’t use a seatbelt. What does this mean when it comes to Colorado auto accident fatalities? State law enforcement notes that in 2017, of the 399 people killed in vehicle accidents, 211 were not wearing a seatbelt.
Across this nation, the leading cause of death for those ages 1-54 is a motor vehicle crash. As noted by safety officials, a seat belt is one of the most effective means of keeping safe. Sadly, for too many of those killed in accidents, their vehicle’s EDR will note one grave mistake: They weren’t wearing seatbelts.