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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New DOT Rule Requires Car Manufacturers to Disclose to Buyers if Event Data Recorders are Installed in New Vehicles

Event Data Recorders Help Investigators Determine Cause of Crash

For the first time ever, under a new passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers will be required to disclose if an Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been installed in a new car.

These electronic devices capture crash data in the few seconds before, during and after a crash. The impact must be severe enough to cause the airbag to deploy; otherwise the EDR will not record the data. Automakers are not required to install EDRs, the device, and this new rule will not require automakers to install the device. However, roughly 64 percent of the model year 2005 passenger vehicles came with an EDR installed in the vehicle.

The new federal rule takes effect starting with model year 2011 cars. Auto manufacturers who have chosen to install EDRs will be required to note in the owner’s manual that the vehicle is equipped with the safety monitoring equipment.

The rule also includes new provisions intended to ensure that the data recorded by EDRs can be used to increase highway safety, such as requiring EDRs to be durable enough to protect data during a collision, and requiring all manufacturers to collect the same type of crash data if they installed an EDR.

Having access to standardized crash data from EDRs, no matter whom the vehicle’s manufacturer, will help NHTSA investigators reconstruct accident sites to uncover the causes. The NHTSA already collects data from vehicle owners who agree to share information from their EDRs with the agency, and this new rule will further support the advance of new safety regulations based on accurate accident information.

The new directive will be applicable to all cars and light trucks with a gross weight of 8,500 pounds or less. NHTSA will evaluate EDR use in larger vehicles separately.

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