The same black boxes that are used to investigate plane accidents have
been installed in motor vehicles since the 1990s. However, the data collected
has not been very valuable with respect to motor vehicle accidents because
each carmaker uses a different system.
However, that is slated to change this fall when new federal standards
take effect. Although the new rules will not make these devices mandatory,
they will standardize what data event data recorders (EDRs) will record
as well as how it will be stored and retrieved.
As highlighted by
Consumer Reports, the issue came to light during the investigation into the unintended
acceleration of Toyota vehicles. Congressional hearings revealed that
Toyota had only one computer in the United States that was capable of
interpreting the data from these recorders.
The new rules take effect October 1, 2012. As San Diego injury lawyers,
we are hopeful that the data collected can be used to improve the safety
of future vehicles and prevent crashes.