Black Box Recorders Proposed For All Vehicles
December 8, 2012

NHTSA Considering Mandating EDRs In Automobiles

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

New cars and light trucks may soon be required to come equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) similar to the "black boxes" that log information for review in case of an accident, according to Associated Press (AP) reports.

According to the AP, a review of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) black box proposal was completed Friday by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the official proposal is expected within the next few days.

Most new automobiles from Ford, General Motors (GM), Toyota and other manufacturers already come equipped with the devices, explains Slashgear's Brittany Hillen.

Should the new regulations be enacted, EDRs will be mandated in all new cars and light trucks starting on September 1, 2014, she added. However, some groups are concerned the devices will invade driver privacy.

"Event data recorders help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world, but looking forward, we need to make sure we preserve privacy," Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman with the industry group The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement Friday, according to the AP.

"Automakers do not access EDR data without consumer permission, and any government requirements to install EDRs on all vehicles must include steps to protect consumer privacy," she added.

The devices have been used in vehicles for nearly two decades, though the AP reports black boxes designed by different manufacturers collect different sets of data. The NHTSA issued a rule in August 2006 to standardize the information collected by EDRs -- a regulation that went into effect for the 2013 model year beginning on September 1. The mandatory EDR proposal was first discussed by the organization back in February of 2011.

"Besides the upcoming proposal to put recorders in all new vehicles, the traffic safety administration is also considering expanding the data requirement to include as many as 30 additional types of data such as whether the vehicle's electronic stability control was engaged, the driver's seat position or whether the front-seat passenger was belted in," AP reporter Joan Lowy noted in a December 8 report.

While Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the black box requirement would "give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives," Representative Bill Shuster, who is expected to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee next month, shared Bergquist's privacy concerns.

"Many of us would see it as a slippery slope toward big government and Big Brother knowing what we're doing and where we are," he told Lowy. "Privacy is a big concern for many across America."