Your personal wheels: Feds mandate EDR notification

| 8/22/2006

If manufacturers put event data recorders in cars and light trucks, they must notify the buyer that the EDR is there. That’s the ruling the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration handed down on Monday.

An EDR records crash data – like speed, braking and air bag deployment – in the seconds during and after a crash. Investigators can use the data to reconstruct what happened.

NHTSA spokesman Eric Bolton told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that when the agency looked at commentary received when the rule was first proposed, it found that people don’t like it when they get an EDR and are not told about it. 

“We believed there was anecdotal evidence that people did not know EDRs were in their vehicles,” said Bolton. He added that the requirement is designed to assure that manufacturers note the EDR in the owner’s manual.

Bolton said the owner’s manual tells people about the vehicle they’ve just bought and that it is NHTSA’s view that the presence of an EDR should certainly be in the owner’s manual.

The safety advocacy group Public Citizen is criticizing NHTSA, pressing that all new cars be equipped with an EDR.

Instead, the agency just required that if a manufacturer voluntarily installs EDRs, if must notify the buyers.

The new federal requirement takes effect for models manufactured beginning 2011.

An EDR is different from an electronic on-board recorder. The EDR only activates during a crash, whereas the on-board recorder is on constantly and provides real-time information on speed, direction and exact location.

NHTSA says it will take up the issue of EDRs for heavy trucks and buses later on.

– by Reed Black, staff writer