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‘Black Box’ Recorders May Become Mandatory in New Vehicles

Dozens of airplane crashes have occurred over the years that have left many questions. While some of these incidents remain shrouded in mystery, the planes’ flight data recorders have helped investigators put together bits of information they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

After years of attempts, it appears the automobile version of the flight data recorder may soon be installed in vehicles nationwide in an effort to enhance car safety.

All vehicles would be equipped with data recorders

According to the Detroit News, the U.S. Department of Transportation is set to announce it wants data recorders, often referred to as ‘black boxes,’ to be installed in all newly manufactured cars and trucks.

While the black boxes may be new additions to some vehicles, several automakers—including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Mazda—already have similar devices installed. If the proposal is approved, event data recorders would become mandatory.

The DOT will not make the black boxes mandatory without first allowing the public and automakers to see the proposal. Officials would then be able to recommend changes, which the DOT will consider.

While equipping vehicles with an event data recorder may seem like a new idea, it’s been under consideration for well over a decade. According to the NHTSA, the National Transportation Safety Board made recommendations in 1997 to “pursue crash information gathering using EDRs.”

Versions of the proposed EDRs have been in use for 20 years on a somewhat limited scale. It was only last year, however, that the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers issued a statement supporting the idea of making EDRs mandatory.