Event data recorders, or as most people might know them, black boxes, have been a fixture of airplanes for years due to their ability to give investigators an accurate representation of the events that led to a crash. A couple years ago, Congress looked into the possibility of passing a law that would mandate these systems on all new automobiles, but a consensus could not be reached.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thus took up the matter, and the White House Office of Management and Budget has just given its approval to the proposed measure. The move paves the way for regulations to be enacted in the early part of 2013.
There are certain privacy issues that must first be taken into consideration, according to a spokesperson with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Many states currently require approval from the court before data can be obtained from the recorders, and many would like to see such measures kept in place to ensure privacy once the devices are made mandatory.
Privacy considerations aside, though, consumers should realize that these black boxes already come standard on most new automobiles. Vehicle manufacturers typically have to put in a request with the car owner before they can access the recorded data.
The benefits of black boxes should not be underestimated. When reports of Toyotas accelerating out of control were circulating through the news, for instance, many of the incidents were reportedly found to result from driver error.