Law & Order

NHTSA Proposes Rule Requiring More Pre-Crash Data From Automakers

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a proposed rule to require black boxes in vehicles to record more pre-crash data at a higher frequency rate as a way to better understand the actions leading up to a crash. Black boxes, or event data recorders (EDRs), are currently required to collect five seconds of pre-crash data at a rate of two samples per second. The proposed rule would require 20 seconds of pre-crash data at a rate of 10 samples per second.

NHTSA has required automakers that install EDRs to collect certain data, including vehicle speed, crash forces at the moment of impact, whether an airbag deployed or if the brakes were applied in the moments before a crash and if seat belts were fastened. More than 99% of new vehicles have EDRs installed.

Black-box data is an important tool for NHTSA investigations. While these requirements pertain to automakers, vehicle equipment manufacturers have reporting requirements to NHTSA as well. If vehicle equipment manufacturers become aware of an incident or allegation regarding their product involving a death, they are required to report this to NHTSA. Similarly, if a manufacturer determines that a product does not comply with a federal safety standard or has a safety-related defect, the manufacturer must notify NHTSA within five days of making such a determination.

For more information on federal regulation of aftermarket equipment click here.

Questions? Contact Caroline Fletcher at