Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Gabler, Hampton C.


Automotive event data recorders; Automobiles--Crash tests


Mechanical Engineering


With the advent of advanced safety systems in U.S. passenger vehicles, there has been increased interest shown by automakers in recording crash related parameters that ultimately lead to the deployment of these safety systems in what are known as Event Data Recorders (EDRs). Since the only other record of these parameters, specifically crash pulse, comes from staged crash tests in a controlled environment, the advent of the EDR has become increasingly important to crash researchers. The purpose of this study is to quantify the performance of EDRs in full-scale crash tests and real world crashes.

Comparison of EDRs with staged crash tests included 6 General Motors vehicles. The EDRs performed well in staged crash tests reporting delta-V accurately in five of six tests. They were able to report other crash related parameters such as driver seat belt and airbag deployment status accurately in five of six tests as well.

Comparison of EDRs with real world accident reconstructions was performed for 315 General Motors cases and 10 Ford cases from the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS / CDS) database. Computer generated (WinSmash) values for delta-V showed the tendency to underestimate delta-V for high-speed deployment events and overestimate delta-V for low-speed nondeployment events when compared to the GM EDR. The Ford EDR showed a lack of sufficient recording duration to draw any concrete conclusions on the accuracy of its delta-V value.