There are millions of cars and trucks already equipped with black boxes, otherwise referred to as event data recorders.
Most of these devices capture rudimentary information just prior to an accident. The activation of an air bag initiates the retention of this information and allows for subsequent retrieval of data such as vehicle speed, seat belt use, and brake application.
Black boxes and related automated recording equipment are being promoted as "research" devices that can aid automobile companies and government agencies in the design of safer vehicles.
This is a laudable, and perhaps plausible, justification for the installation of black boxes in a sample of privately owned passenger vehicles. This assumes the owner's knowledge and permission.
However, from a research perspective, there is no rational or scientific need nor justification to equip tens of millions of vehicles on a perpetual basis with black boxes.
Equipping several thousand vehicles with black boxes will result in the same scientific findings that would result from equipping the entire vehicle fleet of 200 million vehicles with black boxes, and for far less money.
While denials abound there is good reason to believe that the promotion of universal black box installation in new vehicles has more to do with regulatory, enforcement, judicial, and corporate economic interests; all at the expense of vehicle owners who are forced to pay for and retain this form of self-surveillance.
The NMA does not object to safety research that involves the use of black boxes, as long as the participants are informed and willing and they are allowed to opt out of research project without negative consequences. As noted, such research can be reliably conducted with thousands of willing participants, versus millions of uninformed conscripts.
The NMA policy position on black boxes, and similar automated recording devices, is intended to permit the alleged research function while preventing the use of this equipment to the detriment of uninformed and unwilling vehicle owners and operators: