Agency Sets Standards for Black Boxes in Cars

Posted on: October 8th, 2012 by peak

Some automakers have been installing event data recorders, commonly known as black boxes, in cars since the early 1990s. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 92 percent of vehicles made in 2010 that weight under 8,481 pounds have black boxes.

The early black boxes recorded what happened in the few seconds before a crash. They contain a memory chip, circuit board and a data jack. When required, data is downloaded from the black box - it does not have to be removed from the vehicle.

The N.H.T.S.A. is trying to get a rule passed that states all new cars must contain an event data recorder. The N.H.T.S.A. wants the data to be standardized so that it is easier processed by manufacturers and parties that may need the information in a legal action.

The black box uses the vehicle's sensors to record information that may be useful in a personal injury lawsuit or other lawsuit. Currently, the information being gathered by the black boxes includes the speed of the wheels, the action of stepping on the brake, if those in the vehicle had their seatbelts on and the force of the impact.

The director of the Center for Auto Safety says that because air bags have to deploy within milliseconds - or someone could get hurt - it is imperative that automakers use black boxes "to see what is happening in the real world."

In 2012, Congress considered a rule regarding black boxes, but because republicans saw them as an invasion of privacy, the rule was defeated in the House. The federal safety agency published a notice in the Federal Register (Aug. 9) that it turned down a petition by automakers for a one-year delay on standardizing the rules regarding black box data, and as a result, the rules are now taking effect. Those rules specify that data from a black box must measure certain responses and that the data must be retrievable. Now, legislators must decide whether black boxes should be installed in all vehicles.

Source: New York Times, "N.H.T.S.A. Sets Standards for Data Collected From Black Boxes in Cars," Matthew Wald

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Tags: car accidents, car technology

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