Federal Government to Mandate Black Boxes on All Light-Duty Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing to mandate installation of event data recorders (black boxes) on all new light-duty automobiles as of September 2014. Black boxes are already voluntarily installed in more than 95% of model-year ’13 light-duty vehicles. They are subject to NHTSA’s “Part 563” regulation, which specifies uniform methods for collecting, storing and retrieving onboard motor-vehicle crash data. The collected data includes crash speed, brake, accelerator pedal, safety belt and airbag deployment information. 

The proposed rule does not directly address consumer privacy concerns since these issues are generally subject to state and federal law outside of NHTSA’s jurisdiction. Within the limits of its own authority, the NHTSA would only seek access to information with the owner’s permission. With respect to vehicle modifications made after the first retail sale, it would be illegal to market or install a product that would knowingly take the black boxes out of compliance (for example, altering the collected measurements). 

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at