Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Catonsville, Md.
NHTSA wants Black Boxes
I knew this was coming.......
From the Detroit Free Press:
Black boxes for vehicles urged
Safety agency calls for data recorders
August 4, 2004
FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES
WASHINGTON -- The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday recommended for the first time that the federal government require passenger vehicles to come equipped with black boxes that record speed, seat belt use, braking and other factors.
The safety board's recommendation arose from its investigation into the July 16, 2003, farmers market crash in Santa Monica, Calif. Safety investigators were unable to interview the elderly driver who stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, plowing into the open-air market, killing 10 and injuring 63.
The board concluded investigators could have gained a better scientific understanding of the driver's behavior had his 1992 Buick LeSabre been outfitted with an event data recorder.
"We believe very strongly that vehicles should have a black box," said NTSB chairman Ellen Engleman Conners.
But in June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has the authority to enforce such a recommendation, said automakers are adding black boxes fast enough on their own. About 15 percent of vehicles now on the road have the data recorders, and NHTSA says between 65 percent and 90 percent of 2004 vehicles have some sort of recording ability.
NHTSA proposed that recorders collect a standard set of data to help crash investigators. By September 2008, the agency wants recorders to collect up to 42 data elements, including the time it takes for air bags to deploy.
The safety board said Tuesday that NHTSA's proposal doesn't go far enough.
Based on its investigation of the Santa Monica crash, the NTSB concluded that "standards governing voluntary, rather than mandatory, installation of event data recorders in light-duty vehicles will not result in obtaining the maximum highway safety benefits from this technology."
Engleman Conners said the safety board doesn't have the ability to investigate each of the 43,000 traffic accident deaths that happen every year. Black boxes would give investigators the ability to collect data on every fatal accident, she said.
"The basic question I have is 'Why not?' " Engleman Conners said.
The driver, George Russell Weller, now 87, had just mailed a letter on July 16, 2003, when his Buick LeSabre struck the rear of another vehicle and accelerated 1,000 feet through the street market, a Santa Monica police statement said. U.S. officials said 9,000 people visit the market between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The car was stopped by objects beneath it, and witnesses reported seeing no brake lights, police said.