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ROAD & TRAVEL Auto News: Is Your Car EDR Equipped?
A new law requires automakers to admit
whether your car is EDR-equipped

Is Big Brother watching you? You'll find out in 2011, thanks to the recent implementation of a law that will require automakers, for the first time ever, to tell new car buyers if an Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been installed in their vehicle. The rule, issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will mandate notation in owner's manuals starting with model year 2011 cars.

Approximately 64 percent of the model year 2005 passenger vehicles are equipped with EDR data-recorders.

Event Data Recorders are electronic devices that capture crash data in the few seconds before, during and after a crash. Consider them the "black boxes" of the auto industry. However, 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 2005 models came equipped with the device. This new rule will not require automakers to install EDRs if they are not already doing so.

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 (see attached list for all data elements).

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 causes. The rule will support the development of safety regulations based on 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 weighing 8,500 lbs or less. See the NHTSA notice here.

How do you know if your current vehicle is equipped with EDR? Chances are high that it is - especially if it's less than three years old. General Motors, for example, includes EDRs in all of its passenger vehicles, while companies like Toyota have been utilizing the technology for quite some time. Check your owner's manual for more information since many states currently require EDR-equipped cars to be labeled so.

Want to get rid of it? You're out of luck - the technology is so well integrated, there's no easy removal system. So, for the time being, feel satisfied that your black box is only stealing a few seconds worth of information from your pre-crash vehicle data... or else be good just in case.

(Source: NHTSA)