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Are Rules To Require 'Black Boxes' In Cars Half-Baked?


The boxes are known as "event data recorders," and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected next month to rule that all vehicles must have one, Wired reports.

The problem is that not only are there no federal rules on who can have access to the data and how it can be used, but there are no standards yet on what and how much data should be collected.

There aren't even rules on how to decide whether the data retrieved from crashes are valid or not.

"Most manufacturers currently use proprietary systems that require specialized interpretation, and many individual event data recorders do not survive crashes intact," writes's Keith Barry.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and two other groups are working on creating data collection standards for the black boxes. Their work also address the privacy issues at issue, too.

Currently, different states have different rules regarding who can access the data, and they can use it.

The concern is over the rules that govern the use of the information by insurance companies and law enforcement authorities.

It is sometimes used in court cases to go after reckless drivers, according to the article, but different states have different rules about the admissibility of the black box data due to questions surrounding its validity.

The article says that most car makers already include such devices in their cars, because it helps them to determine problems with the cars if there are any.