The alliance opposes the government requiring recorders in all vehicles.
Data recorders “help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world, and we already have put them on over 90 percent of (new) vehicles without any mandate being necessary,” Bergquist said.
Safety advocates, however, say requiring data recorders in all cars is the best way to gather a large enough body of reliable information to enable vehicle designers to make safer automobiles.
“The barn door is already open. It’s a question of whether we use the information that’s already out there,” said Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Automotive Safety.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that requiring recorders in all new cars “will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.”
“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, (government safety officials) and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways even safer,” LaHood said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing for recorders in all passenger vehicles since the board’s investigation of a 2003 accident in which an elderly driver plowed through an open-air market in Santa Monica, Calif. Ten people were killed and 63 were injured. The driver refused to be interviewed and his 1992 Buick LeSabre didn’t have a recorder. After ruling out other possibilities, investigators ultimately guessed that he had either mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal or had stepped on the gas and the brake pedals at the same time.
When reports of sudden acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles cascaded in 2009 and 2010, recorder data from some of the vehicles contributed to the traffic safety administration’s conclusion that the problem was probably sticky gas pedals and floor mats that could jam them, not defects in electronic throttle control systems.