Government Wants a Black Box in All Cars, Including Your Fleet; Automakers Request More Time

Apr 06, 2009

Airplanes have them. Your vehicles soon will. And we’re not talking peanuts.

Event Data Records will soon be mandatory on all new vehicles, and may already be in the vehicles you own.

Automakers are asking for more time to comply with new rules on data standards that apply to event data recorders in new vehicles, according to CollisionWeek. The current deadline for implementation is Sept. 1, 2012, as stated by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers submitted a recent petition requesting a one-year extension.

Apparently automakers have some unanswered questions about specific types of data capture about air bag and restraint deployment, plus clarification on “time zero” and “end of event,” data formatting for accelerometers, and procedures for multi-event crashes, CollisionWeek reported.

Typically used by insurance companies, police and accident investigators, the event data recorders only monitor information in the seconds leading up to and after it senses your airbags are about to go off; things such as:

  • Engine speed
  • Automobile speed
  • Brake status
  • Passenger’s airbag
  • Seat belts (on or off)
  • Warning lamps
  • Ignition cycle
  • Velocity
  • Air bag timing

According to The Motoring Loans Blog, about 70% of all new vehicles have the devices. And General Motors has been installing these soap-sized recorders in every automobile since 1999.

Interestingly, some fleets with
event data recorders, including ones that monitor driving habits, may qualify for auto insurance discounts.

Oh, and if you go looking for a black box in your late model delivery van, many aren’t black at all. They often come in vibrant colors for easy recovery, and it’s probably tucked away under your seat or dashboard.

Photo copyright of
mvhargan under the Creative Commons license