TORRANCE, CA - Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. on May 5 announced it has expanded the number of event data recorder (EDR) readout devices in North America and the U.S. territories to 150 and is training internal and field staff on their use. 

An EDR, also known as a "black box," records specific vehicle information in the event of air bag deployment or sufficient impact. This data is intended to help understand how a vehicle's various systems functioned in a crash.  

The new readout units, along with other vehicle diagnostic tools, will be used to assist in accident investigations and, where appropriate, the evaluation of reports of unintended acceleration where there was impact or vehicle damage, Toyota said.

"By increasing the number of event data recorder readout devices and training more staff across the country, Toyota is better prepared to respond to customer concerns quickly and address their needs more effectively,"  said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America. "We have delivered on this pledge to our customers and to Congress as we continue working to set a new standard of customer care for Toyota." 

Toyota has delivered 10 of these devices to NHTSA and four EDR readout units and supporting software to Transport Canada, which will allow these respective regulatory agencies to conduct their own data retrieval from EDRs in Toyota and Lexus vehicles during investigations. Until recently, Toyota had only one prototype tool to extract EDR data in the U.S. 

Additionally, Toyota said it is developing new policies and procedures for responding to direct customer requests for EDR readouts and data hand-off to "help ensure a smoother, more informed process for all parties involved." 

The company plans to provide additional information to customers on how to make these requests, as well as the process itself, on the Toyota website in the near future. 

Toyota said it also is developing plans to transition to a commercially available EDR readout device and software package, and remains on track to have this in place ahead of the 2012 federal deadline for automakers regarding EDR data capture and data accessibility.