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Black Boxes Soon Required for All New U.S. Vehicles?

When a serious motor vehicle accident occurs, officials often focus on determining the reasons behind the crash. Whether it is questioning witnesses or using accident reconstruction techniques, law enforcement and other government agencies want to learn why so that they can help prevent these accidents from occurring in the future.

A bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate may make it easier to understand some of the causes behind car and truck accidents. Senators have called on automakers to install data recorders in each new vehicle by the year 2015.

The recorders, similar to "black boxes" on airplanes, will record data and may be accessed after a crash. The device will be able to check various vehicle components, such as acceleration and speed prior to crash.

Emergency personal will be able to use this data to piece together what happened right before an accident. Critics of the new rule are afraid that this personal data could be used against individuals who are at fault in accidents, or lead to tickets for other traffic infractions.

The bill would make the data recorded by the black boxes the possession of the owner of the vehicle. Police would need to get the court's permission before they can access the info being stored. Attorneys representing clients in personal injury lawsuits against other drivers would also need permission to access the data.

Officials began considering black boxes after several Toyota vehicles were involved in crashes that were said to have been caused by a stuck accelerator. By checking the recorders, experts were able to determine whether vehicle problems or operator failure caused the crashes.

Source: MotorAuthority "Senate Passes Bill Requiring Implementation Of Vehicle Data Recorders" Kurt Ernst, May 14, 2012.

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