NHTSA Gets More Aggressive With Car Black Boxes

·2 min read

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Is this a good or bad thing?

Nearly all new cars sold right now come with an even data recorder (EDR) also lovingly referred to as black boxes, like what’s included on airplanes. These devices allow investigators to collect data from right before a crash, helping them to piece together what a driver might or might not have done. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long been an advocate of these devices, attempting to force automakers to install them in all new cars. Well, it’s making another push only this time it’s not mandating their installment.

Watch our interview with a car detailer here.

As President Trump pointed out back in 2019, such a measure of forcing automakers to install EDRs was unnecessary since they were doing it already. It’s estimated 99.5% of new vehicles have an EDR. NHTSA had been pushing for a mandate since 2004. Now, after conducting a multi-year study NHTSA wants to increase the amount of data recorded, expanding it from 5 to 20 seconds at a higher frequency.

Ostensibly, this shift in what EDRs record is to help NHTSA better comprehend what happens in crashes where advanced driver assistance systems were likely in use. That would include all these times Teslas have just plowed into emergency vehicles while Autopilot has been activated. Honda is already complying with NHTSA’s wishes.

Since 2006, NHTSA has required that if a car has an EDR, it must capture data like vehicle speed, whether air bags deployed, if the brakes were applied, if seat belts were fastened, and what the crash forces were in the moment of impact.

If this regulation is approved, it will take effect no sooner than September 2023. While some might find this rule change to be a no-brainer, others are going to be concerned with personal privacy in general. After all, the federal government is weighing more regulations such as requiring cars to gauge if a driver might be intoxicated, disabling the starter, as well as tracking vehicle movements to calculate a per-mile-driven tax.

Source: Reuters

Photos: NHTSA, Facebook

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