As of today, when incidents like sudden acceleration happen, it's extremely difficult to diagnose conclusively what the cause was. Without a mechanism to track exactly what the driver did, what the vehicle sensors detected and how the vehicle responded, it usually ends up being a he said/she said situation.

Thus, in the wake of recent allegations of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, a movement has begun to equip all cars with black box data recorders.
Representative Gene Green (D-TX) has already introduced legislation that would mandate the installation of such event data recorders, or black boxes, in all new vehicles.

General Motors has now come out publicly in favor of the proposal. GM has been installing event data recorders in its cars since 1995 as part of the air bag system. In accidents where the airbags are triggered, GM can use the data stored in the EDR for diagnostic purposes to improve the function of its safety systems. The recorders save the last few seconds of data before a crash from a number of sensors. GM is not only supporting the installation of these recorders in all vehicles, but also supports making the data accessible so that accident causes can be more accurately determined.

[Source: General Motors]
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GM Supports Event Data Recorder (EDR) Mandate to Improve Vehicle Safety

General Motors applauds Representative Gene Green (D-TX) for his support of a Federal mandate to install Event Data Recorders (EDRs) in all new vehicles. EDRs can provide important crash related data that will help promote vehicle and occupant safety on America's roads.

"Broad EDR application and collection of data will help save lives and prevent injuries," said Michael J. Robinson, Vice President, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy.

EDRs record data for retrieval after a crash that can assist in the understanding of how the vehicle's systems performed. Data is stored for the short period just before and after a crash.

"EDRs help us understand vehicle control systems, and more importantly, provide critical crash information to help improve structural and restraint system designs across the vehicle fleet," says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

GM began widely installing the predecessor version of today's EDRs in vehicles in the 1990 model year, and they became standard equipment in light duty vehicles in the 1995 model year. A device that allows for limited public retrieval of the data in GM EDRs has been available since 1999.

"It is essential that decisions on important safety issues be supported by the best available data, and we are convinced that EDRs can help that process," said Robinson. "We agree with those who called for mandatory installation of and greater use of the data from EDRs during recent Congressional hearings."

GM also supports wider availability of the crash data stored in EDRs. This data can help in determining crash causes more quickly, and can contribute significantly toward improving the amount and quality of real-world data in state and national safety databases, such as the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Recording System (FARS) and National Automotive Sampling System (NASS).

"GM will work with NHTSA, Congress and others on this issue, including taking the necessary steps to assure that important concerns about privacy are adequately addressed," said Robinson.

Additional information about the use of EDRs in GM vehicles can be found at: http://www.gm.com/corporate/responsibility/safety/event_data_recorders/