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NHTSA to propose black box rules for cars

Last week we posted on the unfortunate one-car accident that killed a Tupelo woman in Monroe County. According to investigators' preliminary reports, the car apparently lost control, broke through the center median and overturned before coming to rest in the southbound lanes of Highway 45.

While speculation abounds as to what else caused the accident, potential federal regulations may change how accidents are investigated. According to ABC News.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to introduce regulations that would require automakers to include event data recorders in all new cars and light trucks.

These recorders (commonly known as black boxes) have the ability to preserve a short record of the events leading up to a crash. Essentially, black box information can tell investigators how fast a car was traveling, whether it was spinning out of control due to braking or other road hazards, and where the car was going before the crash.

Specific details have not been released as of yet, but safety advocates imagine that the regulations may be similar to rules governing black boxes in commercial trucks. Data recorders have been instrumental in curbing hours of service (HOS) violations by commercial truckers.

ABC News also reports that some automakers have been including semblances of data recording technologies for a number of years. For example, General Motors' OnStar system can alert safety providers when airbags are deployed or when the car has been damaged in a crash.

In the meantime, privacy advocates are concerned about potential misuse of black box information. Nevertheless, black boxes may be the key to answer vexing questions about auto accidents.

Source: ABC News.com, Black Boxes in Cars Raise Concerns, December 7, 2012

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