The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just introduced a set of new rules that new cars equipped with black boxes must meet. For new cars built on or after September 1 with black boxes, the systems must meet a standardized set of guidelines.
Black boxes have provided valuable information in the aftermath of plane crashes, and can do the same for automotive collisions. Though many cars are already equipped with black boxes, each automaker has its own way of retrieving certain data. With the new rules in place, the NHTSA has established a universal standard governing the format for what type of data is collected, so the agency can get a good understanding of what happened seconds before the crash.
Accelerator position, vehicle roll angle, steering wheel angle, duration of crash, occupant size, and engine rpm are just some a few pieces of information that must be included. Law enforcement, insurance companies, and automakers could be given access to the information to determine whether a vehicle flaw or driver error was at fault, but state laws determine which groups receive access.
Privacy remains an issue with black boxes but, with the new ruling, the NHTSA also controls who owns the data, the procedure for retrieval, and who can retrieve it.
Source: NHTSA via The New York Times