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Car wireframe

Come 2013, the federal government may require cars manufacturers to install black boxes, the event data recorders that store information about your driving, into every vehicle made for sale. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants you to weigh-in on whether this is OK with you or not.

The NHTSA proposed the new rule early in December, but it is looking for “comments” on the rule, to be submitted by Feb. 11. It notes that “comments … are most useful if submitted within 30 days.” You can comment online, through snail mail, and hand delivery if you’re in Washington, D.C. You can find instructions for comments on the government regulations website.

Black boxes record information when a car is performing certain potentially dangerous actions such as swerving and abrupt braking. It also takes note of how fast a person is driving, whether the seat belts are in use, how many people are in the car, and other data points.


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The agency specifically states that this data will be used to “understand vehicle crashes more precisely.” It’ll also give this information to manufacturers so that they can create new safety features and implement these into future car designs. The proposal also states that it could give out data to emergency response teams, who can gather as much information as possible before arriving at the scene of the accident.

As Wired notes, EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has a section on black boxes and asks questions about who will own the data, what types of data can be collected now and in the future, and if consumers should be told the black boxes exist before the purchase the car.

Car image via Shutterstock

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