The federal government may soon mandate recording devices in all cars. Under proposed Senate Bill 1813, Event Data Recorders (EDRs), otherwise known as "Black Boxes," will be required in all new cars starting in 2015. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a similar bill soon. A bill agreed on by both houses is widely expected to become law.
The bill is part of the fallout from Toyota's massive recalls due to unintended-acceleration defects. It was discovered that the company's cars sometimes accelerated contrary to the operator's actions.
Crash Data Measurements
The federal law will implement a standard, determined by the Department of Transportation, for what data is subject to EDR recording. EDRs are designed to record data that can be used by emergency responders, law enforcement, investigators and legal professionals after a car accident to find out what went wrong. DOT's current EDR standard includes 15 measurement data points, including the direction of acceleration, throttle position, airbag deployment, seatbelt engagement and details of the impact like force and direction.
The current Senate bill version will require measuring such data for a "reasonable time" before, during and after an accident.
Ownership of Event Data Recorder Data
Further, the law will designate who owns EDR data. Sellers of cars with EDR systems must already disclose their presence to consumers. It appears that the law will assign ownership of EDR data to the car's owner or lessee. However, major exceptions will allow access by emergency responders and require the sharing of such information following a court order.
Expanding the use of Event Data Recorder will facilitate the investigation of car accidents. Using the data recorded by EDRs, forensic experts will be able to reconstruct what happened during the crucial period immediately before the accident.
In short, EDRs will help get the facts. As a result, it may become easier to identify and prove the negligence of potentially liable parties. A personal injury attorney with experience in this practice area can help work through the issues and secure compensation for the client.