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Vehicle ‘black box’ data recorders to be mandatory from 2015

Next time you crash your car, it’ll record everything that led up to the accident. It’ll remember your speed, steering angle, when you brake, your location and it’ll give all that information to the courts if necessary. That’s right, folks, black box data recorders, which are mandatory in planes, may soon be a legal requirement in cars — in America, at least.

Next time you crash, data recorders may know who's at fault.
Next time you crash, data recorders may know who’s at fault.

The US Senate has passed a bill that makes vehicle data recorders mandatory for all vehicles starting in 2015. The annual transportation bill must also pass through the US Government’s House of Representatives before it becomes law, but it’s widely believed this is just a formality.

According to Car and Driver, the Senate Bill 1813 states that “new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder.” The data recorders will “capture and store data related to motor vehicle safety covering a reasonable time period before, during, and after a motor vehicle crash or airbag deployment, including a rollover.”

The exact data these systems will capture have yet to be confirmed. However, we can reasonably expect systems related to the factors that commonly contribute to accidents to be recorded. Expect speed, brake force, steering angle and location to be a part of the data set.

Interestingly, Senate Bill 1813, makes it clear that any data recorded by the black boxes is the expressed property of the owner of the vehicle, or in the case of a leased vehicle, the lessee of the vehicle. It states that data recorded or transmitted by such a data recorder may not be retrieved by a person other than the owner of the vehicle unless a court authorises the retrieval of that data in order to further legal proceedings, or if the owner consents.

Emergency services will be able to access the data without a court order in cases where such data would help them respond to an emergency.

Exactly when these boxes will become a legal requirement is unclear, but sources close to the project say it’s pretty much a done deal. That only leaves the question of when such a law will be adopted in the rest of the world.

Source: Car and Driver

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