It's been working its way through Congress for years, but according to Car and Driver, an event recorder mandate could soon become law. The Senate has already voted to adopt a transportation bill that would make the so-called "black boxes" mandatory by the 2015 model year. According to the report, the House of Representatives is also expected to pass a similar statute.

While the specifics of the bills are "vague" – to use C/D's words – they're also likely to change before becoming law. What probably won't, according to the report, is the standard data set that the Department of Transportation has set forth, 15 measurements that include direction of acceleration, throttle position, and time that the airbags fired, among others.

This raises the specter of government snooping, of course. The Senate version at least specifies that the data contained in the little electronic box is actually owned by the owner of the vehicle, according to the report. Johnny Law can still come around with a warrant to gain access to it, however, and first responders and paramedics would be able to do so without the warrant, provided they needed the information to respond to the emergency.


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  • 127 Comments
      Big Squid
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess this means I'll be driving used cars for the rest of my life.
        Toneron
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Big Squid
        One of many reasons to do so.
        Rob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Big Squid
        I may get a new car a little earlier than planned, like 2014, and then make it last as long as possible.
      Alex Stoane
      • 2 Years Ago
      People wonder why every car I own is at least 10 years old or older. Things like this are the reason why.
        M Lange
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Stoane
        These have been in some cars in one form or another since airbags made their debut to collect information about air bag deployments, AFAIK. There's a partial list here: http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f1e0f5f/3#MSG3 For more info on EDRs in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_data_recorder http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/edr.html
          M Lange
          • 2 Years Ago
          @M Lange
          Arr, why no edit button? Here's a more original source for box locations and such (though TBH, the site uses some fairly lame SEO tactics, like including ALL the keywords): http://www.airbagcrash.com/sdmairbagtechinfo.html
      Making11s
      • 2 Years Ago
      When the House inevitably passes this bill, can we stop pretending that either side favors small government?
        Zach
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        That smaller govenrment mantra is getting old
          Making11s
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Zach
          That's my point. Neither side actually wants to shrink government. They just want to emphasize different parts of the government.
          xmailboxcancerx
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Zach
          Your faith in a huge bureaucracy is already ancient and tiresome across entire generations. How about them apples?
      GoFaster58
      • 2 Years Ago
      More added cost to the consumer. Lawyers will get richer
      mikeybyte1
      • 2 Years Ago
      How much will this add to the price of a car? How much will this add to the cost of insurance claims? How much will this add to annual car inspections to test and validate the device still works? I am sure that all of the "we hate big government" senators voting for this will wave the "it is for your own safety" flag. So it is for our own good, and we have to all shell out more money for it. Really sad. I agree with the other post that they should make this an optional safety feature and let consumers decide if they want it or not,
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        [blocked]
        kingrat001
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Helped prove my version of the huge wreck I was in back in 2003. My truck had a recorder that told them my headlights were on, I was going 52 MPH, etc. The uninsured idiot I hit that turned in front of me claimed my headlights weren't on. The one that got crushed proved that anyway, but seeing the printout couldn't have hurt. I got my deductible back, and my rates went down. I have no problems with it. It only records 30 sec or a minute before an event, so what's the big deal?
      Bassracerx
      • 2 Years Ago
      And the fine for removing or hacking this is? What if I just take out its memory so it has nowhere to put the data it records?
      Mchicha
      • 2 Years Ago
      Watch your liberty slip by
      john m
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not worried about the government although Im pissed that they are passing this. I'm more worried about the insurance companies and lawyers who are going to give all of us repeated prostate exams using the info against us. If they do this will the "no fault" status some states have go away? What happens if somebody gets in an accident that's person a's fault but person b was going one mph over the speed limit? What happens if my car comes with it but I pull it out?
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      We all got 2 years to get new cars then try to make the cars last.
        Zach
        • 2 Years Ago
        @KAG
        Yep buddy my thoughts exactly
        IOMTT
        • 2 Years Ago
        @KAG
        Or a good excuse to modernize a classic into a daily driver. Black 67 Nova 4 door (kids you know) with suspension/brake upgrades, a small block and a six speed. You get the idea.
      jebibudala
      • 2 Years Ago
      They left out the clause in the legislation where stated, "data may be obtained by an official without a warrant upon investigation or inspection." By not defining "inspection" could be at a simple checkpoint, smog test, officer suspicious of speeding. You name it. "Hand over your license, registration, and black box."
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jebibudala
        [blocked]
        Schadenfreude
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jebibudala
        What the Senate bill does make clear is that the data is owned by the car’s owner or lessee. But if the police or other agencies want to retrieve it without the owner’s consent, they’ll need a court order. First responders such as paramedics would also have access to the data—without a court order, even—in cases where it will help them respond to an emergency.
          Big Squid
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Schadenfreude
          You're right. Legislation will protect us from the abuse of technology.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Rhemy
      • 2 Years Ago
      This hilarious. We need black boxes attached to our cars to make the roads safer? Emergency teams need access to the boxes after accidents to perform better? How will this keep people from speeding without insurance and government having easy access to it. Why don't they just put black boxes on everything for safety?
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