Many are familiar with Event Data Recorders (EDR) in vehicles. These devices record engineering data that can be useful when investigating a traffic incident. However, other data can be recovered from vehicles, and this data is becoming as comprehensive, if not more, than the data recoverable from Event Data Recorders.
This data is from the In-Vehicle Infotainment system in the vehicle. This is the actual screen in the center console that a user interfaces with, usually through a touchscreen, to select music, call or text, utilize applications, or navigate.
For hundreds of models of vehicles, digital forensic technology exists that allows the data from the In-Vehicle Infotainment system to be collected and analyzed. The information contained in the system includes data such as:
- Navigation history
- social media feeds
- text messages
- Bluetooth connections
- whether the vehicle’s lights were on and off
- if the driver was turning volume or tuning knobs, opening a window, locking or unlocking doors, gear indicators
- Location and track points
This type of information can be critical for human factors experts to determine if a driver was distracted. For instance, were they selecting music on the touchscreen at the time of an accident, or were they reaching over to turn the tuning knob?
Also, imagine a scenario where a phone that was critical to a case had been lost or the data wiped. What if there are no cloud backups of the phone, and the phone was never backed up to a computer? There is still one place to look for the data; the car. When a user syncs a cell phone to a vehicle, it copies over contact lists, messages, emails, chat apps, and more depending on the vehicle and model of the phone. These are the types of things our experts can investigate to help uncover key evidence for a case or a claim.