NHTSA Wants Electronic Data Recorders on All Vehicles

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Monday, December 24, 2012

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting that all cars manufactured after September 2014 have electronic data recorders (EDR) that can capture important vehicle system operational data in the moments immediately before a crash or accident.

EDRs are currently installed on many cars, and they record much of the information NHTSA would like, but there are no standards in place. NHTSA wants a uniform regulation to ensure they have access to consistent data to allow them to discern potential safety issues that cause motor vehicles accidents.

A proposal that would allow drivers to turn off event data recorders with an on/off switch was rejected by David Strickland, NHTSA administrator, as being a “horrible thing for safety,” he said in an interview with the Detroit News.

EDRs record the operational status of the major vehicle systems, like how fast the vehicle was moving, if the driver was stepping on the accelerator or brake prior to the crash, the deceleration forces present during the crash, when the air bag deployed and if the seat belts were fastened.

They would be valuable, as they allow a snapshot of all of these areas, and could help address such questions as how fast was a vehicle moving and if the brakes worked correctly at the time of a crash.

The EDRs do not record all operational data, but only capture the data for the seconds before the crash. Nonetheless, some privacy issues have been raised, notably by the AAA, which insists there must be controls on how the data can be accessed and used.

EDRs are already on 96 percent of vehicles, as they have been in use for 20 years, so making them mandatory should not be difficult for manufacturers.

Source: Detroit News, “NHTSA: Data recorders ‘essential’ to auto safety,” David Shepardson, Dec. 19, 2012

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