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New DOT Rule Requires Automakers to Tell Consumers if New Vehicles Are Equipped with Event Data Recorders

For the first time, automakers will be required to tell new car buyers if an Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been installed under a new rule issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Event Data Recorders are electronic devices that capture crash data in the few seconds before, during and after a crash. EDRs do not capture any data unless there is a collision that is severe enough to cause the airbag to deploy. While automakers are not required to install EDRs, approximately 64 percent of the model year 2005 passenger vehicles came equipped with the device. This new rule will not require automakers to install EDRs if they are not already doing so.

The new federal rule, which takes effect starting with model year 2011 cars, will require automakers who have chosen to install EDRs to note in the owner's manual that the safety monitoring equipment has been installed.

The rule also includes new requirements designed to ensure that the data collected by EDRs can be used to improve highway safety. For example, the rule requires EDRs to be more durable to protect data during a crash. The rule also requires automakers to collect the same type of crash data if they chose to install an EDR.

The agency noted that having access to uniform crash information from EDRs, regardless of the vehicle?s manufacturer, will help investigators recreate crash scenes to determine the causes. The rule will support the development of new safety regulations based on accurate crash information that NHTSA collects from vehicle owners who agree to share information from their EDRs with the agency.

The safety agency said it also expects the new rule will enhance the value of automatic crash notification systems, including the Enhanced 911 emergency response system currently under development by making it easier for vehicles equipped with automatic crash notification features to provide accurate and immediate information to emergency personnel.

The new federal regulation will apply to all passenger vehicles and light trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or less. NHTSA will separately evaluate EDR use in larger vehicles. The notice can be seen at: