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Government Will Soon Mandate Black Boxes in Cars

In the aftermath of an airline crash, among the first things investigators retrieve from the debris is the little black box. This recorder captures flight data critical to determining what caused the accident. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to rule that all new cars carry a similar device.

But before you cry, "Hey, Uncle Sam, stay out of my car!" here's something you might want to know: most modern cars already have black box systems installed. So. you might have one and not even know it. General Motors, for example, has been installing the electronic data recorders since the 1990s on most vehicles that have airbags.

Some view this mandate as an invasion of motorists' privacy. It seems the cause for some drivers' concern is the type of information being captured, as well as who has access to it. Additionally, different automakers use different Electronic Data Recorder (EDR) devices.

Regardless of privacy issues, data recovered from a car's black box provides crucial insight into crash dynamics – just as it can with airplanes.

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