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Coming Soon To Your New Car: A Black Box Data Recorder

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First Scene Car Blackbox Traveling Data Recorder

First Scene Car Blackbox Traveling Data Recorder

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Last week, we told you about a proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would require brake-override systems on new vehicles. But there's more change afoot in D.C.: according to Mashable, legislation has passed in the U.S. Senate that would mandate the installation of black box data recorders too, beginning with the 2015 model year.

The exact verbiage can be found in Section 31406 of S.B. 1813*, and it goes something like this:

"Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part."

While the devices would clearly benefit law enforcement agencies and insurance companies, they're also meant to help NHTSA evaluate customer complaints about specific vehicles. For example, data recorders could've cut through some of the confusion and panic surrounding 2010's Toyota/Lexus recall fiasco. (Though we're not sure that the floormat issue would've been caught with black boxes.)

Our take

Black boxes are already being tested on European cars. From where we sit, though, there are at least two major hurdles facing the installation of data recorders on American vehicles: privacy and cost.

The Senate bill addresses the former pretty clearly, stating that owners and lessees have sole ownership of their black box data, unless (a) the owner/lessee consents to share it, (b) it's subpoenaed by a court, or (c) there's a life-threatening accident, like a collision.

Cost is a different matter. The bill simply says that within two years, the Secretary of Transportation must report to Congress on the cost of the data recorders, but by that time, the 2015 model year will be mere months away. Even if the recorders are discovered to be cost-prohibitive, workers at factories around the globe will already be installing them. We suppose NHTSA will have to cross that bridge when it comes to it.

Of course, for any of this bill to pan out, it'll have to pass the House too. Mashable thinks that's likely to happen, but given the state of Capitol Hill these days, we're slightly less certain.

Take a look at the news clip below and let us know: do you think mandating data recorders is a great idea, a terrible idea, or somewhere in-between? 

* The entire bill is a really interesting read, if you've got nothing better to do on a Friday.

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Comments (6)
  1. Snooping, privacy invasive government recorders in my vehicles ? Yeah right...right after they pry my guns out of my cold, dead fingers. No way Jose ! If they install them I will rip them out. Guarandamnteed !
     
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  2. As usual this is a backdoor attempt (disguised as safety) to see how many miles you go each year. Since cars are getting better mpg, gas tax revenues are dropping for both state and feds. This way they can charge per mile for use of roads. Simple solution is to keep your old car. Don't buy one with a black box.
     
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  3. This is a back door way to make cars ready for the pay per mile tax, where the government will turn every road into a toll road. We already generate plenty of money to maintain the roads with gas taxes but that is not enough the government wants to turn every toad into a toll road as another source of revenue. Not to mention another governmental unwarranted invasion of your privacy. Soon the TSA will have check points strategically located to examine regular cars, just like the big trucks have their check points. The TAS will frisk and grope you and your passengers and download your cell phone and your auto black box to keep an eye on you.
     
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  4. Just another sign of the ever far reaching tentacles of the Federal Govt. Under the disguise of safety the Feds will stop at nothing until they have complete control of ones life except when it comes to dying with dignity.
     
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  5. we the people have given the government to much power over the years...
     
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  6. It takes away your right to 'keep silent as to not hang yourself'. It's a really slippery slope, they do not take road conditions into consideration because they can't. In MA even when the data contradicts the reconstruction prosecution is still allowed to use this data to send folks to jail.
    If you are able, after any incident erase the collected data by turning the ignition ON/OFF 3-4 times.
    I know this because I was convicted in 2005 of negligent homicide. An accident occurred while driving down a pot hole filled road @ 20 MPH in a blinding snowstorm at 230 in the afternoon. Speeding, no way. More like trying to power out of a spin in a foot of snow. Never had a driving infraction I 18 years. BIG BROTHER IS A BAD IDEA!!
     
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