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March 1, 2010

US: GM backs call for vehicle black boxes

General Motors has welcomed US politicians' calls for event data recorders (EDR) [aka 'black boxes'] to be fitted on all new vehicles.

General Motors has welcomed US politicians’ calls for event data recorders (EDR) [aka ‘black boxes’] to be fitted on all new vehicles.

Representative Gene Green, a Texan Democrat, supports a federal mandate to install EDRs in a bid to provide crash-related data.

“Broad EDR application and collection of data will help save lives and prevent injuries,” said GM vice president environment, energy and safety policy Michael Robinson.

Much in the same way that aircraft carry ‘black boxes’ for post-accident analysis, EDRs record data for retrieval after a crash that can assist in the evaluation of how the vehicle’s systems performed. Data is stored for the short period just before and after a crash.

“EDRs help us understand vehicle control systems, and more importantly, provide critical crash information to help improve structural and restraint system designs across the vehicle fleet,” said Insurance Institute for Highway Safety president Adrian Lund.

GM began widely installing an earlier version of today’s EDRs in vehicles in the 1990 model year and they became standard equipment in light duty vehicles in the 1995 model year.

The automaker says a device that allows for limited public retrieval of the data in GM EDRs has been available since 1999.

“It is essential that decisions on important safety issues be supported by the best available data, and we are convinced that EDRs can help that process,” said Robinson.

“We agree with those who called for mandatory installation of and greater use of the data from EDRs during recent congressional hearings.”

GM added EDR provision would improve information for national safety databases such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Recording System (FARS) and National Automotive Sampling System (NASS).

“GM will work with NHTSA, Congress and others on this issue, including taking the necessary steps to assure that important concerns about privacy are adequately addressed,” added Robinson.

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