Owners Unaware of Recorders

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has turned down a petition to
require data recorders that collect and save information on speed, seat-belt use, brake
use, and other driver inputs. NHTSA said that automakers are already putting data recorders
into new vehicles at a satisfactory rate and approximately 15 percent of the vehicles now
on the road have them. NHTSA also stated that from 65 percent to 90 percent of 2004
vehicles have some sort of recording ability. Nearly two-thirds of the people surveyed by
an insurance industry group did not know their vehicles had this capability. Lawyers have
sought data collected by recorders to use in court. NHTSA wants recorders to have
standardized data parameters for crash investigators. By September 2008, the agency wants
recorders to be able to collect up to 42 specific data elements, including the time it
takes for air bags to open. The NHTSA proposal also would require manufacturers to include
a statement in owners’ manuals to inform people that the data recorders exist.

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