Kentucky bill dies that sought to limit access to vehicle data recorders

| 4/29/2008

A failed effort in the Kentucky Senate sought to make it harder for information collected from black boxes to be used against drivers of passenger vehicles.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, introduced legislation that called for requiring the disclosure of the presence of “event data recorders,” or “black boxes” in the owner’s manual for vehicles. However, the bill has died.

Kentucky law now doesn’t require vehicle owners to be notified that vehicles are sold with EDRs. The boxes can include a variety of information such as the vehicle’s speed, direction of travel, location, steering performance, braking performance, seat-belt status and accident information.

Insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers and other interested third parties can access data after an accident. In many newer vehicles, the information is automatically uploaded to a communication center immediately following an accident, according to published reports.

Supporters of the bill said people should be informed about the presence of these devices. Opponents disagree with the claim that EDRs invade a driver’s privacy. They said driving is a privilege, not a right.

The bill – SB34 – also would have given owners control over any data collected.

Insurance companies and auto manufacturers would have been allowed to access the data only with the owner’s consent or through a court order.

At least 20 states have considered efforts in recent years to regulate information from black boxes. California was the first state to regulate the recorders in 2004. Since then, at least 10 states have approved regulations for the devices.

Efforts to restrict use of the devices in Kentucky will have to wait until the 2009 regular session convenes.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kentucky in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor