Car “black boxes” essential to auto safety, NHTSA boss says image

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s boss David Strickland said car data recorders are essential to auto safety.

In a Detroit News interview, Strickland said the government will protect motorists’ privacy and that he opposes on/off switches that could allow motorists to turn off event data recorders. According to NHTSA’s boss, having such switches would be a horrible thing for safety.

The NHTSA earlier this month proposed that all vehicles built after September 2014 will be equipped with event data recorders that record information before and after a crash. The agency estimates that around 96 percent of 2013 cars and light-duty vehicles are already equipped with data recorder capability and at least 91 percent have the devices.

The „black box” is triggered by a crash or airbag deployment and collects data in the seconds before and during impact. “The EDR information tells us so much about what’s going on with a vehicle,” Strickland said. He added the recorded information is essential to understanding auto safety issues and “to allow us to figure out what went wrong so we can fix it or we can ask the manufacturers to fix it.”

The event recorders collect data such as vehicle speed; whether the accelerator or brake was activated in the moments before a crash; airbag deployment timing and readiness; forces at the moment of impact; and whether the seat belts were buckled.