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Massachusetts congressman: Allow drivers to opt out of accident info

Now in his eighth term as a congressman representing much of Boston, Rep. Mike Capuano has long championed a privacy rights issue that would enable car owners to turn off the "black box" data recorder in their vehicles.

If his proposal is enacted, it would mean that for drivers who disable the box, data newer vehicles record about vehicle speed, braking, etc., would not be available to investigators in the aftermath of a car accident.

The event data recorder (EDR) is currently installed in approximately nine out of 10 new vehicles. The boxes collect a wealth of data on vehicle acceleration, airbag deployment, braking and more -- even collecting data on whether a passenger was in the vehicle at the time of a collision.

The EDR is there to give information to car-design engineers about what happens in car crashes, so that the engineers can analyze the data and further refine safety features. The EDRs also help control the tightening of seat belts in the first milliseconds of a crash, control some steering and braking adjustments, and so on. The data has also proven very useful in some accident investigations.

But Capuano is concerned that the EDRs are an intrusion on American privacy. "I don't think you'll find very many Americans who know these devices are in their cars," he told a media outlet.

One car crash investigator said he doesn't think consumers should be worried about the data collected.

"More often than not, the data from this is going to help them in an accident," he said. "It's at least going to point out one thing, and that's the facts."

Anyone injured in a car accident caused by someone else's recklessness or wrongdoing should speak with an attorney who understands how the law and evidence can be used to protect accident victims.

Source: WVXU, "Yes, Your New Car Has A 'Black Box.' Where's The Off Switch?"; Martin Kaste, March 20, 2013

  • Our Massachusetts law firm represents clients across the state. For more information, please see our Boston car accidents page.

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