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Should Car Makers Include Black Boxes in New Vehicles?


As part of its regulatory authority over roads in Los Angeles and the rest of the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a new rule to require carmakers to include “black box” devices in all cars beginning in 2014. Black boxes, also known as event data recorders, have helped improve safety in the airline industry for several decades. The agency hopes that broader use in cars would help understand traffic accidents.

Beyond greater awareness of car crash trends, black boxes could also help victims recover the compensation to which they are entitled after a dangerous car accident.

Similar to investigations of airplane crashes, black boxes will allow victims and their lawyers to look through enormous amounts of comprehensive data to determine what happened leading up to a crash. These records can then serve as clear evidence of reckless or illegal driving, demonstrating that the other driver is responsible for a crash.

The NHTSA listed several important forms of data, including speed, use of brakes, and acceleration. Black boxes can also capture information regarding the force of a collision and proper functioning of safety equipment like airbags. All of this will be an enormous help for plaintiffs.

While many current cars already have these devices installed, the NHTSA is considering a proposed rule that would require carmakers to start including black boxes in all new models in September of 2014.

Source: NHTSA, “U.S. DOT Proposes Broader Use of Event Data Recorders to Help Improve Vehicle Safety,” Dec. 7, 2012