Congress to Debate Black Box Recorder Laws

Congress is poised to start debates on "black box" recorders in vehicles.  Last week, the National Highway  Traffic Safety Administration urged Congress to mandate all new vehicles after 2014 should include "black box" data recorders in the vehicles.  These so called "black box" devices are intended to record information which could help reconstruct an accident.  This would include information such as recorded speed, whether the brakes were applied, etc...

However, the Automobile Club, also known as AAA, is advising against this move.  AAA is instead claiming this is a violation of drivers' privacy.  AAA claims drivers should be able to own the data these devices collect.  The Automobile club advocates Congressional debate focusing on protecting drivers' privacy and preventing against unreasonable seizures of this data.

What a Black Box Could Mean for You

Absent an ability to opt out of the data collection, via an on/ off switch maybe, drivers would have their every maneuver recorded.  That turn you took a mile ago has been recorded.  Speeding at 95mph down the highway? Check.  Could this data then be used to establish a pattern of behavior for reckless driving?  What if this data was used to suggest you were a serial law breaker and deserved harsher punishment? The possibilities are endless.

The NHTSA estimates 96% of 2013 model cars and work vehicles already include this data.  In fact, this usage is quite common in work vehicles, including so called "light duty" vehicles.  Shipping companies, trucking companies, and all manner of companies who send its workers out onto the road keep track of this kind of information.  And this is used to determine whether or not the employee is on his route, whether an employee deviated from his job to waste time, to find where goods are at any point in the journey, and to determine what the driver may have done wrong in an accident.  Current law dictates that these companies keep information regarding maintenance, but there are no laws dictating how long this data is kept.

If you've been in an accident, you must still rely upon investigation techniques that your lawyer or the police employ.  And skilled personal injury attorneys can usually gather experts to provide similar data that a "black box" might provide. We will keep an eye on this debate, but if you're injured in the meantime, your best bet is to contact a skilled personal injury attorney.