NHTSA rules for “black box” event data recorders take effect September 1

blackberry outage not all bad helped improve middle east road safety car crashNot all cars come with the event data recorders (EDRs or “black boxes”) that are mandatory equipment in commercial aircraft, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would like that. Some new cars do have recorders, though, and the NHTSA will issue a new set of rules for those devices September 1.

Carmakers are not required to install recorders in their vehicles, but they do want data from accidents. Consequently, the new rules will affect a lot of cars: 91.6 percent of cars on the road in the U.S. reportedly have EDRs.

The NHTSA believes that, short of mandating the devices at a cost of $24.4 million, the next best thing is having a standard that ensures that any data recovered is usable. According to the NHTSA, “rule making to mandate EDRs across the entire light-vehicle fleet could contribute to advancements in vehicle designs, and advanced restraint and other safety countermeasures.”

The recorders collect data in the moments leading up to a crash (and in some cases, the moments immediately after), but do not record at any other time. The types of data recorded include: vehicle speed, amount of throttle and brake application, airbag deployment, and whether a vehicle’s occupants were wearing their seat belts during a given crash.

The new NHTSA rules stipulate that black boxes must record a minimum of 15 types of crash data, although it has identified 30 types of data, such as engine speed (rpm) that could be recorded.

The standards also apply to the boxes themselves. The NHTSA will require all data recorders to transmit precise information after a 30 mph crash into a solid barrier. The recorders are usually mounted underneath a car’s dashboard on the driver’s side, and can be plugged into laptops and other devices for data retrieval.

The new rules also require car manufacturers to release the data from the recorders to the public. According to the NHTSA, the push for more black boxes, and thus more data, will contribute to an “understanding of crash events and safety system performance, thereby potentially contributing to safer vehicle designs and more effective safety regulations.”

All of the EDR rules were announced in 2006, and were supposed to take effect on September 1, 2010. However, the automakers got the compliance date pushed back to 2012. Now, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is petitioning to delay things again, this time until September 1, 2013.

The Alliance says its members need more time to coordinate with data recorder manufacturers to ensure a steady supply of compliant boxes. It claims that many of the recorders will not meet the new standards, so they will be shut down to avoid penalties. General Motors told the Detroit News that it will disable certain aspects of data collection in the Chevy Malibu and GMC Savanna. Since EDRs are not mandatory, there is no rule against turning them off.

Car companies are not opposed to EDRs. In May 2010, the Alliance did endorse making EDRs mandatory, but was concerned that Congress would make the requirements for the devices too stringent.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Business

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Cars

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

California wants all-electric public bus fleet on its roads by 2040

California approved a regulation that targets an all-electric public bus fleet for the whole state by 2040. The effect of the full implementation of the regulation is equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road.
Cars

1,000-mph Bloodhound supersonic car project finds a last-minute savior

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has found a buyer. The project was going to be disbanded after running out of funds, but its assets were purchased by British businessman Ian Warhurst.
Cars

Ford’s prototype Quiet Kennel uses noise-canceling tech to keep dogs stress-free

Ford is ending 2018 by venturing into the doghouse market. The company's European division has built a kennel equipped with active noise-canceling technology and soundproof walls that help dogs sleep through fireworks.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Cars

The best compact cars pack full-size features in fun-size packages

The best compact cars on the market rival their counterparts in many ways, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Here, we've rounded up some of the better options available, including an SUV and an electric alternative.
Cars

Lincoln revives its coolest-ever design feature for limited-edition Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.