They’re mandatory in airplanes, but very soon, the device known as a black box might soon be required to be installed in motor vehicles as well.
The new transportation bill that was just approved by the United States Senate has a clause that makes these event recorders mandatory on all vehicles of the 2015 model year and later. A similar measure is now being considered in the House of Representatives as well, and if reports are to believed, that legislative body will likely be approving the mandate too.
The event recorder, or black box, if you will, will adhere to standards set by the Department of Transportation. The DOT has advised that such boxes gather data under a variety of different metrics. These 15 categories include such things as what time the firing of the airbags occurred in a crash, what the position of the throttle was, and in which direction the vehicle was accelerating. These are just to name a few.
Some worry, though, that this is an invasion of privacy. To that end, though the Senate version of the bill stipulates that the owner of the vehicle is also the owner of the data in the box. Therefore, any law enforcement officers who want to see the information must first obtain a warrant. It should be noted, though, that in the event of an emergency, rescue personnel can access the data if it’s critical to helping them do their jobs.