Kentucky bill would limit access to vehicle data recorders

| 1/8/2008

Big Brother might have his eye on black box data from vehicles, but a Kentucky state lawmaker wants to make it harder for the information to be used against drivers of passenger vehicles.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, offered legislation for consideration during the upcoming regular session that would require the disclosure of the presence of “event data recorders,” or “black boxes,” in the owner’s manual for vehicles.

Kentucky law now doesn’t require vehicle owners to be notified that vehicles are sold with EDRs. The boxes could include information on the vehicle’s speed, direction of travel, location, steering performance, braking performance and 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 say people should be informed about the presence of these devices. Opponents disagree with the claim that EDRs invade a driver’s privacy. They say driving is a privilege, not a right.

The bill also would give owners control over any data collected.

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

At least 20 states have at least 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.

The Kentucky bill can be considered during the session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 8.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor