The public comment period recently ended for a proposed federal law that would require black boxes to be installed in all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States by September 1, 2014. Although privacy advocates have reportedly expressed concern over the proposed law, many automakers have already installed such devices in their vehicles. In fact, some models have been recording accident data since the 1990s. The black boxes allegedly record driver actions and responses in an automatic and continuous information loop.
Information stored in a motor vehicle black box may be used to determine the speed an automobile was traveling immediately prior to a collision. In addition, sensors may be used to determine whether the brakes were engaged, a seat belt was worn, or a motorist was steering erratically before a crash. The devices are allegedly designed to assist accident investigators and improve roadway safety. The data collected by black boxes is also increasingly being used in lawsuits. For example, such data was reportedly utilized when drivers claimed Toyota vehicles unexpectedly accelerated without warning.
In late 2012, a federal law required that car manufacturers begin disclosing the existence of black boxes in each vehicle owner’s manual. There are purportedly no federal privacy policies in place to prevent misuse of the information that is collected by automobile black boxes. In addition, car owners cannot currently opt out of installation and it is apparently tough to disable the devices. When a device is installed, automakers collect at least 15 different data points.
In addition to a federal black box requirement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reportedly considering whether to require the devices to collect an additional 30 data points. Although some auto manufacturers are currently collecting information regarding a motorist’s seat position, passenger safety belt use, and whether a vehicle’s electronic stability technology was engaged prior to a wreck, many do not. Safety engineers have purportedly identified in excess of 80 data points that may be collected in the future.
Despite purported privacy concerns, the NHTSA claims it does not have the authority to place restrictions on the use of data collected by an automobile black box. Still, as many as a dozen states have implemented a privacy law regarding the use of device information. According to Gloria Bergquist, Vice President of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, a federal data recorder requirement is unnecessary. She said more than 90 percent of new vehicles are already equipped with such devices. Bergquist also stated black boxes help safety engineers understand how automobiles perform in real world conditions.
Traffic accidents may be caused by many factors including driver inattention, carelessness, or impairment. Inclement weather, motor vehicle defects, hazardous road conditions, and other factors can also cause an unexpected wreck. If you were hurt in an automobile collision, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation for any injuries or medical expenses that you incurred as a result of the accident. Unfortunately, obtaining the damages you deserve following a collision can be complicated. You should contact a skilled Chicago personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights in more detail.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a vehicle crash that took place in the Chicago Metro, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. Our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you file your personal injury case. For a free consultation with a diligent personal injury attorney, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596.
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