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‘Black Box’ or ‘Spy Box’? US regulators want to make car data recorders mandatory

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December 29, 2012

US regulators want to make event data recorders (EDRs), similar to “black boxes” used on planes, mandatory on all cars produced from September 2014. The move has sparked a tense debate between safety advocates and those worried about loss of privacy.

The National Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA), which is in charge of setting motoring regulation, has submitted a proposal for public comment in the Federal Register. Currently, standard EDRs automatically collect data on a car’s speed, the use of brakes, the number and seating of passengers, seat belt deployment and dozens of other parameters to help reconstruct how a car was behaving in the seconds before a crash. The data is continuously recorded and overwritten onto an electronic carrier inside the car, but when certain triggers are set off – say, an airbag is deployed – the data is saved and can be downloaded.

The recording, which is usually the last 30 seconds before any accident, is then passed onto the NHTSA for analysis, currently with the owner’s consent.

“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, NHTSA and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways even safer,” claimed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This proposal will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.”

Full story here.

This article was posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 6:03 am

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