Airplanes have so-called black boxes that track what takes place in the moments before a crash. allowing authorities and investigators to piece together the accident so that something similar can be avoided in the future. Soon, cars and trucks will be carrying such devices as well, spurred on in no small part by the recent cases of unintended acceleration reported by a number of Toyota drivers and the automaker's subsequent recalls.

At present, Toyota has but one lone device in the United States – a prototype, at that – capable of reading the 'black boxes' it already installs in its automobiles. Not for long, though. During his testimony at the Congressional Hearing for Toyota Safety, Yoshimi Inaba, head of Toyota's North American operations, indicated that "hundreds of units of them [will be] available by the end of April."

Toyota also plans to make these black box readers commercially available by 2011, which is one full year before the U.S. government has mandated. We still have a few questions, though. For instance, how much data is recorded by the box, and for how long? Even if it's found that a car was operating at or near full throttle, will there be a way to know whether that was the operator's fault or a failure of the car? Regardless, having the ability to read whatever data is available sounds like a major step in the right direction.

Tired of Toyota recall news? Try out the recall-free version of Autoblog.

[Image: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images ]

Share This Photo X