Event Data Recorder Devices

edr-picA research study regarding Event Data Recorders (EDRs) just published by Directorate General For Internal Policies and requested by the European Parliament’s Committee (MEPs) on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) has the intention to inform the European parliamentary debate on the topic.

The study looks at the contribution that EDRs could make to EU road safety policy – “The EU is giving increasing attention to these and other Intelligent Transport System devices as they could help meet road safety targets set in the 2011.”

The document states that, “In the context of the EU Road Transport Agenda 2011-2020, widespread introduction of EDRs could also contribute to the overarching objective of improving road safety by reducing deaths and injuries across the EU”.

Our report here is not meant to be a comprehensive cover of EDRs but a brief overview. You will need to read the document to get a full understanding, but briefly there are different types of EDRs with a number of them being currently on the market and in use.

They can, “monitor vehicle data such as, speed, acceleration and braking, and engine parameters”. They differ in their intended uses and hence in the amount, type, rate/frequency, duration, and quality of data they collect.

Those favouring the introduction of EDRs argue that this could, “lead to improved driver behaviour, better vehicle design and safety performance and faster, more incisive emergency intervention in the event of an accident, when EDRs are mated to eCall tools.” (eCall is a system that automatically contacts emergency services).

The overview in the document looks at the technical development and implementation of EDR devices in cars and commercial transport vehicles, however there is mention of motorcycles.

This mention is contained in a table that looks at the expected impacts of the introduction of EDRs in Germany for motorcycles, giving a start-up year of 2020, with 90% of the fleet having EDR by 2044.

Using fatality data between 2000 and 2009 (five years out of date), the document states that the overall number of fatalities fell at a steady rate for cars, goods vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians while the number of fatalities in accidents involving motorcycles remained constant , suggesting that there is still work to be done in improving motorcycle safety.

This is not the first time we have seen this statement in the last five years in EU documents regarding motorcyclists and perhaps it is time that the relevant data are updated.

While there are concerns that data “collected” by EDRs can be used “against” vehicle users if made available to authorities and the obvious question about who the data actually belong to, in a road Safety application the EU proponents of these EDRs angle to “improve the mapping of the causes of driver error to address them in a more targeted manner.”

A useful tool for an insurance company perhaps and while EDRs can be linked up to video recorders, riders, drivers and cyclists are already using dash cams to record their journeys especially recording collisions that may occur.

Appropriate Privacy Safeguards

What we are really saying at Right To Ride is that there is concern that these EDRs and other such devices will mean more surveillance by government and its agencies watching us and recording our every move.

The document does cover these concerns, “The main issue regarding the development of EDRs relates to the privacy of collected data.

Without appropriate privacy safeguards, drivers and passengers of smart vehicles might be unable to monitor and control the data being processed; or even unaware that data is being processed . This issue has yet to be addressed fully in the EU, as different national legislative provisions account for it in different ways, and EDR data is not regulated consistently.”

We are fortunate that when launching their “Safe Ride to the Future” initiative recently, ACEM announced that they, “Will organise thematic workshops in close cooperation with industry national associations in order to gain a better understanding of what actions can be taken at local, regional and national level to improve safety for PTW riders. Moreover the motorcycle industry believes that all relevant stakeholders (e.g. users’ organisations, public authorities and non-governmental organisations) should take an active role and coordinate their efforts to further reduce PTW casualties.”

ACEM’s members have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on ITS, committing themselves to installing safety-relevant co-operative ITS onto at least one of their PTW models by 2020.

There is recognition by ACEM that, “the driving dynamics of powered-two and three-wheelers are much more complex than those of automobiles especially concerning Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACCA) or Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS), which have been primarily engineered for use in cars, have the potential to be dangerous if applied to a PTW without the necessary adaptation to PTW dynamics. Powered-two and three-wheelers require a dedicated approach and specific engineering solutions to optimize the potential of ITS for road safety.”

In the key findings regarding improved road safety the document states that, “There is no definitive evidence on the link between EDRs and road safety improvements. Further research will be needed as the evidence base grows”.

The priorities that affect motorcycling from the European Union bodies, appear to focus on new technologies and their adaption to motorcycling.

Perhaps it is now the time for riders to make a stand to ensure that our voice is heard in these important discussions.

This requires intelligent and expert positioning to determine the best outcome for motorcyclists.

Links & Information

Transport And Tourism – Technical Development And Implementation Of Event Data Recording In The Road Safety Policy – pdf – Click Here

Executive Summary – pdf – Click Here

Transport and Tourism (TRAN Committee – Click Here

Right To Ride EU – ACEM – Yesterday’s Rider – Click Here

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  1. Thanks for a very informative post.

    Insurance companies here in the South have previously offered EDR’s to young drivers as a way of reducing premiums via shared data but none of those schemes have seen significant uptake.

    There’s a lot of discussion ongoing at the EU level around data protection right now and that’s certain to feed into the discussions on EDR’s. Interesting times ahead I think.

  2. Many drivers are now using similar devices in order to monitor there driving safety etc. These devices are being promoted through insurance companies with the hopeful end result of a reducing premiums by identifying those drivers that can justify a reduction. Some companies monitor there employees in the same way. I do not know what will happen when a person is found to be so dangerous that there insurance is cancelled. We wait and see.

    I have no problems providing that its a decision made not by the powers that be but by the individual themselves.

    That however I am afraid is not what the EU wants, it will probably require all vehicles to be fitted with such a device so that all drivers, be they safe or stupid will be monitored and examined like an annual mot and treated accordingly.

    Certainly if an insurance company can reduce premiums to safe drivers it can and will increase premiums to someone found to be dangerous. The danger will still remain on the road and the insurers get wealthier.

    If it becomes a legal requirement then it may deter those idiots on our roads who ride motorcycles and possibly force them to alter their attitude to riding in an anti social and a dangerous way but they will be the ones who would not accept such a device voluntarily.

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