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All Cars Must Possess Black Boxes by 2013, Says NHTSA

VA truck accidentBlack boxes, or event data recorders, have been used on airplanes for years to help investigators determine why crashes and accidents occur. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants this technology in all vehicles on the road. Collecting data from cars right up to the point of a wreck could be very beneficial. Not only would the information help investigators figure out how or why a specific crash occurred, but it could provide valuable statistics on crashes nationwide.

Currently, about 90 percent of cars manufactured are already quipped with EDRS. Still, the NHTSA claims that not all information recorded by this device is necessarily available to all parties. Only GM, Ford and Chrysler makes the information available to download and interpret. Other manufacturers have refused to make the information public.

The question of who owns the information is still up for debate. Most people claim the owner of the vehicle therefore owns the EDR information. But auto manufacturers often include a clause in the sale or lease agreement that the purchaser waives their privacy right to EDR data.

Obviously, there are a lot of legal issues to be dealt with before this technology becomes even more widespread than it already is. Still, the information recorded by these devices could be priceless for vehicle owners who do get into accidents. It's great that the NHTSA is mandating the use of these black boxes, but as a Virginia accident attorney, I see the need to standardize the way these EDRs work. By having a standard set of laws about the EDR information, consumers and attorneys can better use the data collected.


Eric K. Washburn
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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