Feeds

US tweaks airbag snitch rules

Crash! the data

High performance access to file storage

From September 2010 car makers must inform US drivers of the presence of crash recording technology in new cars that they buy.

Revised guidelines from The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (PDF) do not insist on the inclusion of event data recorders (EDR) in new cars. But privacy advocates are concerned that information captured by the technology could be abused. Notification through the small print in owners' manuals will leave most in the dark, they argue. Information might be used to pressure car owners into dropping insurance claims, for example.

"They basically punted on the privacy issues," Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "This is a technology that is powerful and rapidly advancing and we need to bring our laws up to date."

Road safety groups and insurance firms have long lobbied for compulsory recorders in cars, while auto makers have favoured a voluntary approach. Despite this reticence, EDRs are fast becoming standard issue in America. General Motors, for example, outfits all new vehicles with recorders, and two-thirds (64 per cent) of vehicles hitting the US highways last year featured electronic recording technology linked to airbags.

EDRs capture crash data in the few seconds before, during and after a crash. They do not capture data unless the collision is severe enough for the airbag to open.

The NHTSA specifies the information to be gathered by the "black box" and who is entitled to access it. EDR measurements include vehicle speed and acceleration, braking, if seat belts are active and some airbag functions. Uniform crash information data will assist police in determining the causes of car accidents and contribute to research into improving highway safety. The NHTSA also expects the new rules will improve automatic crash notification systems currently under development. The revised rules call for recorders to be more durable, to better withstand crashes.

The federal regulation will apply to all passenger vehicles and light trucks. Regulations for larger vehicles will be considered separately. Car makers have a long lead time to comply with the new guidelines and to make sure the inclusion of the technology is noted in owner's manuals, starting with model year 2011 cars. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.