New low-cost crash recorder to improve grassroots racing safety

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A new low-cost Impact Data Recorder (IDR) has been developed by the FIA to reduce fatal accidents and improve safety in grassroots motor sport, with the support of the FIA Foundation.

The FIA Safety Department developed the IDR in collaboration with AiM Technologies to be a fraction of the price of the current Accident Data Recorder (ADR), used in championships such as Formula One and the World Rally Championship. The limiting cost of ADRs means they are currently fitted to less than one percent of racing cars worldwide.

The FIA is encouraging all National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) to incorporate these devices into their grassroots championships. Graham Stoker, FIA Deputy President for Sport, said: “This is a remarkable opportunity to improve safety in grassroots sport worldwide. We have created an affordable data recorder using modern technology that can be used in any championship and we want everyone in the pyramid to fit this to their competition vehicles. Ultimately using an IDR has to become part of the safety system in the vehicle, like putting on gloves or wearing a helmet.”

The study of serious accidents, and how best to reduce the risk of fatal injury, is one of the primary objectives of the FIA Safety Department. Worldwide accident data collected by the FIA shows that 99 percent of fatal accidents occur in amateur level motor sport where accident data recording is not present, making it difficult understand crash sequences and how to make changes to improve future safety.

The FIA Safety Department developed a product that can easily record data to analyse accidents but at a very low cost to the competitor. It was also designed to be easy to install and can be operated without the need for special technical support. The result is a small novel device, measuring just 6cm and weighing 12 grams, that will not interrupt drivers. Housed in a smart polymer casing, the IDR requires no wiring or mounting with its simple ‘fit and forget’ adhesion installation. It requires no maintenance and its internal battery is capable of recording over 80 incidents during its two-year lifespan. The device instantly records all high G impact data and is also programmed to capture all secondary impact data.

The IDR is part of a system that will include a secure access mobile app, allowing impact data to be downloaded and stored securely on a cloud server before being distributed to the relevant ASN. The app enables the user to download impact data and submit supplementary information such as driver details, vehicle details, incident photographs and additional information. The reporting functionality offered by the app allows the ASN to gain a better perspective of every incident through more thorough incident reporting and accompanying impact information, all being held in one database.

IDRs offers many benefits to ASNs, circuits and drivers, including the possibility of reduced insurance premiums, more track time and identifying trends that may lead to the refinement of cars, circuits and safety equipment.

Adam Baker, FIA Safety Director, said: “By utilising recent advancements in consumer electronics we have been able to achieve a very low-cost device, making it possible for widescale adoption in grassroots competition. We encourage all ASNs to integrate this innovative new data recorder into their range of safety devices.”