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Regulations For Automobile Black Boxes

By Perry Zucker  (2008-2010)

which various groups try to draw parallel references to the airplane black box; this is the furthest thing from the truth.  Unlike, the airplane “Black Box,” which has the capability of recording positioning, actual travel velocity (speed and direction), safety device(s) utilization, mechanical problems, operating errors, as well as audio in the cockpit/compartment.  


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines automobile black boxes (EDR) as: a device or function in a vehicle that records the vehicle’s dynamic, time-series data during the time period just prior to a crash event (e.g., vehicle speed vs. time) or during a crash event (e.g., delta-V vs. time), intended for retrieval after the crash event. For the purposes of this definition, the event data do not include audio and video data. (1)  Automobile black boxes (EDR)  that were installed by the original vehicle's manufacturer (OEM) generally record safety restraint system(s) data,  pre-crash data,  post crash data,  vehicle information and system status. They may be located in different location(s) such as center console, under seat(s), etc.

In the state of Florida EDRs are not specifically regulated under the Florida Statutes. However, Florida does have a computer trespass statute, s. 815.06, F.S., which defines a “computer” as “an internally programmed, automatic device that performs data processing.” An EDR could be interpreted to fit within this broad description. Under s. 815.06, F.S., whoever willfully, knowingly, and without authorization accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network commits an offense against computer users and commits a felony of the third degree. Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals has ruled on the admissibility of EDR data in a criminal trial. The court ruled that the use of EDR data satisfies the Frye test for admissibility, because EDR data is generally accepted in the relevant scientific field. Florida law does not address who owns EDR data, who has access to EDR data, and the permissible uses of EDR data (e.g. adjusting automobile insurance rates, criminal prosecution, product liability defense, and etc.). (+)


Federal Regulations - NHTSA - FMVSS - NBS

NHTSA has issued several new regulations for collecting data, in order to enhance the system. These regulations are proposed for vehicles made after September 2010  (in most cases model year 2011).  However, the auto makers filed an application, which was granted for an addition year to be extension; 2012 model year.  Although the EDR is not mandatory, (as per the date of this article), any OEM that decides to install the device in their vehicles must comply with the new regulations which  has a  minimum set of data; 15 elements in a standard format, and a statement in the owner's manual indicating that the vehicle is equipped with an EDR as well as describing the purpose.  





























   

Conclusion

It bears mentioning that the EDR is currently, not being used for the original intended purpose, which was for diagnosing vehicle related issues / airbags by technicians / data collection.

The EDR should never be used as a stand-alone device.  The use of physical evidence, such as impact data, skid/yaw marks, initial/resting positions of vehicle(s), in conjunction with the black box, as well as the answers to many tough questions will indeed have to be addressed regarding privacy issues, admissibility, and common sense is essential to obtain the correct resultant, the use of “Automobile Black Box” data recorders.



* Source: Senate Commerce Committee Staff     (+) Florida State Senate 10/09 (1) specify the vehicle owner as the owner of EDR data; (2) restrict access to EDR data, unless procured via a warrant or court order; (3) restrict insurers’ access to, and use of, EDRs; (4) require manufacturers or dealers to provide notice or make certain disclosures to consumers about EDRs, consistent with federal law.

Auto Black Box readout

Every few seconds a vehicle related accident occurs.  The causes of these accidents rely on the knowledge and the experience of engineers.  


The EDR (Event Data Recorder), or the latest “buzzword” is called “Automobile Black Boxes or Vehicle Black Boxes”,

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