WASHINGTON Dec 7 Devices that record
crash-related data would be required in all
new cars and light trucks under a U.S. Department of
Transportation proposal made on Friday to broaden their growing
use in the United States.
The proposed rule, which may stir consumer privacy concerns,
would require automakers to put "event data recorders" in light
passenger vehicles weighing less than 8,500 pounds, effective
Sept. 1, 2014.
The so-called black boxes would track vehicle speed, brake
activation if any, forces at impact and whether a seat belt was
buckled, among other crash-related information in the seconds up
to and during a collision.
Such data would help investigators and automakers better
grasp crash dynamics and the performance of air bags and other
systems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a
Transportation Department arm, said in a statement.
Mindful of privacy concerns, it said the devices would not
collect any personal identifying information, nor record
conversations or run continuously. A crash or air bag deployment
typically triggers the on-switch.
In keeping with current policies, the information would be
treated by the agency as the property of the vehicle's owner.
The data would not be used nor accessed by the agency
without owner consent under the proposed rule, which is open to
public comment for 60 days after being published in the Federal
Register, the government's official gazette.
When a vehicle owner dies in a crash, the vehicle becomes
the property of the insurance company, which could give consent
as the owner.
About 96 percent of model 2013 cars and light-duty vehicles
are already equipped with a form of this technology, the safety
administration estimates. The devices require special hardware
and software to be tapped.
The devices would help figure out "what future steps could
be taken to save lives and prevent injuries," David Strickland,
the safety agency's administrator, said in the statement.