August 22, 2006

New NHTSA requires consumers to be informed of event data recorders

Washington, D.C. – Under a new rule issued yesterday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers will be required, for the first time ever, to tell new-car buyers if an Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been installed in the vehicle.

EDRs are electronic devices that capture crash data in the few seconds before, during and after a crash; they do not capture any data unless there is a collision severe enough to deploy the airbags. While EDRs are not mandatory, approximately 64 per cent of all model year 2005 passenger vehicles came equipped with the device. The new rule will not require automakers to install EDRs if they are not already doing so. The new regulation will apply to all passenger vehicles and light trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 3855 kg (8500 lbs) or less; NHTSA will separately evaluate EDR use in larger vehicles.

The new federal rule will take effect starting with model year 2011 cars, and will require automakers who install EDRs to note in the owner’s manual that the equipment has been installed. The rule also includes new requirements, designed to ensure that the data collected by EDRs can be used to improve highway safety; for example, the EDRs must be more durable to protect data during a crash, and automakers must collect a standardized type of crash data if they install an EDR.

The agency noted that having access to uniform crash information, regardless of the manufacturer, will help investigators recreate crash scenes to determine the causes. The rule will support the development of new safety regulations, based on accurate crash information that NHTSA collects from vehicle owners who agree to share the information on their EDRs with the agency.

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