NHTSA calls for black boxes in all light vehicles
Under the proposal, all passenger vehicles under 8,500 pounds will need to be equipped with event data recorders such as this one pictured in 2006.
WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today proposed a rule ordering automakers to put event data recorders, commonly known as black boxes, in all new light vehicles manufactured after September 2014.
About 96 percent of model 2013 vehicles being sold in the United States contain these black boxes, which record data in the seconds leading up to a crash and help to understand what went wrong. NHTSA set standards in 2006 for these pieces of equipment, which add about $20 to the cost of making a car.
NHTSA's move was not a surprise. The White House on Thursday cleared the proposal for release.
All of the light vehicles made by General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. already meet the requirements, for example.
Under the proposal, all remaining passenger vehicles under 8,500 pounds will need to be equipped with event data recorders.
It will cost about $26.4 million to make them standard across the industry, NHTSA estimates. The agency says that price tag is justified because black boxes will help regulators learn how to prevent accidents.
The devices "provide critical safety information that might not otherwise be available to NHTSA to evaluate what happened during a crash -- and what future steps could be taken to save lives and prevent injuries," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a press release.
The rule has been in the works for years. Early last year, NHTSA said it would propose making the black boxes mandatory by the end of 2011, but the White House Office of Management and Budget reviewed the regulation for more than a year.
NHTSA must now take public comment on its proposal and decide whether to make changes before writing the requirements into law.
Industry groups such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers had raised concerns about the privacy of data gathered from black boxes.
These data can include the speed of the vehicle, whether the driver pressed the brake and whether the driver's seat belt was buckled at the time of the crash.
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