The federal government wants to add event data recorders (EDR) — better known as “black boxes” — to all light passenger vehicles starting Sept. 1, 2014.
But, privacy experts are concerned about the proposal from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), saying the data could be used for nefarious purposes of even to levy additional taxes.
Interestingly, according to NHTSA, as many as 96 percent of model year 2013 cars and light-duty vehicles have EDR capability. Federal officials say capturing the information can be used to improve highway safety, especially by using it to help understand the dynamics involved in a crash and the performance of safety systems.
“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, NHTSA and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways even safer,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This proposal will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.”
The government said the devices would not collect any personal data.
In 2009, lawmakers in Oregon considered a proposal to start taxing drivers based on how many miles they drive, saying current gas taxes bring in less revenue because of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Last month, the state said it is started a pilot program in which "40 volunteers will pay a charge for each mile that they drive during the three month pilot, rather than paying the state gas tax," the state's DOT said.
A report by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission found that the nation’s surface transportation system is in a “physical and financial crisis,” and that “if we are to remain competitive in a global economy, we must thoroughly reassess the current approach to funding surface transportation infrastructure.”