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NHTSA Moving to Make “Black Box” Standard Safety Feature

NHTSA Moving to Make “Black Box” Standard Safety Feature

Light-duty vehicles and planes are about to share something in common: data recorders. Airplanes already have a data recorder–colloquially known as a “black box”–that records real-time flight data which is relied upon in the event of an accident. Now, all new light-duty cars and trucks may required to carry a similar recorder, for exactly the same reason. According to a report from Automotive News, a ruling from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration saying that all new light-duty cars and trucks will have to carry a black box is expected in the next couple of days.


The White House Office of Management Budget concluded its review on the NHTSA’s purposed rule, which is the final step before everything is finalized. However, it’s still unknown at this time just when this ruling would go into effect. With Americans buying 15.5 million new vehicles annually, this new rule would set automakers back an additional $24.4 million for everything related to installing the black boxes. Around 90 percent of all automakers are already ahead of the curve though and include a black box already. Some of these manufacturers include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and Mazda.

The truth is that these recording devices have been around for two decades, however for most of that each automaker collected different data. Back in 2006, the NHTSA ruled that all black boxes should collect the same data no matter what automaker made it. This ruling was scheduled to go into effect for all new 2013 model year vehicles starting back on September 1 of this year. Earlier last year, the NHTSA made a move to make black boxes mandatory on all light vehicles but that was put on hold until the White House Office of Management Budget finally reviewed it. The report was finally reviewed in full today.

“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,” Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said in a statement to Automotive News. “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.”

Bergquist’s group speaks up for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz USA, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Volvo. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers works with these brands to try developing and employing ways to meet public safety demands. The alliance represents 77 percent of all light car and truck sales in the U.S.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

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