The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

National Transportation Safety Board Recommends Installing Black Boxes on All Cars and Trucks

August 10, 2004

The National Transportation Safety Board wants “black box” data recorders in all cars and trucks, according to an article in the Detroit News newspaper on August 3. After investigating a 2003 car accident in Santa Monica, Calif., where an 86-year-old driver plowed a 1992 Buick LeSabre into a farmers’ market, safety investigators were unable to interview the elderly driver who stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, killing 10 and injuring 63. The board concluded that investigators could have gained a better scientific understanding of the driver's behavior had his car been outfitted with an event data recorder. The boxes track speed, seat-belt use, braking and other factors seconds before a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates the auto industry, says about 15 percent of U.S. vehicles have black boxes. Insurance companies and law enforcement agencies also support wider use of black boxes on cars. The transportation safety board, however, says 67 to 90 percent of 2004 models have black boxes and says automakers are adding them fast enough. NHTSA at the same time proposed that recorders collect a standard set of data to help crash investigators. By Sept. 2008, the agency wants recorders to collect up to 42 data elements, including the time it takes for air bags to deploy.
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