Legislation to Protect Black Box Information Falls Short

Jan 26, 2014 View Comments by

Legislation to Protect Black Box Information Falls ShortUnbeknownst to many drivers and motorcyclists, Event Data Recorders, commonly and mistakenly referred to as “black boxes” are becoming increasingly prevalent in motor vehicles. Though it’s unclear how many and which modern motorcycles have such data gathering capabilities, it’s been estimated that at least 85-percent of late model cars and trucks were equipped with such devices as of 2010. While in many cases there are positive uses for the information collected, there are also important legal questions that need to be answered. Who owns the information? How can it be used in a court of law? What data is being collected and how long is it stored? When can/should insurance companies have access to the data?

Already there have been multiple cases where accused drivers have been either convicted or exonerated on the strength of evidence harvested from their vehicle’s memory banks. Recently, senators John Hoeven (Republican from North Dakota) and Amy Klobuchar (Democrat from Minnesota) introduced S-1925, a bill intended to limit the use of such information. The bill states that the data recorded by an EDR is the property of the vehicle’s owner (or lessee), however, though the bill lists specific vehicles to which it applies, motorcycles are not included. Presumably, if passed, S-1925 would dramatically increase the control of EDR data for car and truck owners while leaving motorcyclists in a kind of gray area. The American Motorcyclist Association has set up an easy to use form by which to contact your specific senator in order to request that motorcycles be added to the list of vehicles protected by the bill. You can check it out here. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can call or write to your senator personally.

What are your thoughts? Were you aware of the existence of EDRs in your motorcycle or car?


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