POSTED: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 4:41pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 26, 2013 - 5:53pm
Tyler (KETK) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it wants all cars to be equipped with event data recorders by Sept. 2014.
Those are also known as "black boxes."
The news sparks a growing debate about privacy concerns and more government interference.
But those who know a lot about how black boxes work, say they aren't a bad thing.
It's reported that 96 percent of all cars sold in the U.S. have them.
Black boxes are usually buried deep in the console area of your car.
David Briscoe says the device stores performance information to aid in future safety studies for manufacturers.
"Real inertia, and real impacts ... we can't determine that in a lab," said Briscoe, an auto technology professor at Tyler Junior College. "... It's information that could come in handy in the future, that could make your next car safer."
It's caused some to worry about "Big Brother" butting in on our privacy, but Briscoe brings up a point.
"If you have OnStar or any other program to call for roadside assistance, they can access all the information in your car that they want," Briscoe said.
For law enforcement, a black box is a vital investigation tool.
Tyler Police tells KETK they use them during fatal crashes.
"We will download the information to determine speed, seatbelt usage, air bag deployment, velocity, (etc.)," said Brian Tomlin, traffic supervisor for Tyler Police.
Texas, along with some other states, has a law to make sure your information is protected.
"We can only access that control module through a peace officer's warrant, or voluntarily if the owner consents to it," Tomlin said.
Briscoe says only Congress can turn the NHTSA suggestion into law, but he believes black boxes eventually will be in all cars in the near future.