The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require event data recorders (EDRs) on all light passenger vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2014.
School buses and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are exempt. Public comments are sought through Feb. 11, 2013.
In 1999, NTSB recommended that NHTSA mandate EDR installation on motorcoach and school bus bodies (rather than on the chassis) manufactured after Jan. 1, 2003 and gave specific requirements for the data collection and survivability of these devices, which are similar to "black boxes" used by the aviation industry. The NTSB has also used memory modules in engine ECUs to support its own crash investigations.
Meanwhile, for more than a decade NHTSA has maintained online EDR research.
Throughout 2001, school bus manufacturers joined a truck manufacturers, truck users, the motorcoach industry, EDR manufacturers, EDR users, academics and federal government representatives to review current data collection standards, EDR report recommendations for data variables, NTSB's recommendations and to draft a preliminary list of data elements, including school bus warning lamp status, seat belt status, acceleration, anti-lock brakes, etc.
The group also started working on the definition of event as it applied to the vehicle mix of trucks, motorcoaches, and school buses.
Then, in May 2002, a NHTSA working group published a study that concluded that EDR technology has the potential to greatly improve truck, motorcoach and school bus vehicle safety.
"EDRs could have a major impact on highway safety, ranging from assisting in real-world data collection, to better defining the auto safety problem, to aiding law enforcement in understanding the specific aspects of a crash," that report states.
The working group's study also concluded that many large-vehicle engine manufacturers have included memory modules in the engine's electronic control unit (ECU) that collect vehicle data, primarily for fleet management uses. However, the working group found that manufacturers of aftermarket EDRs had limited success in deploying EDR technology into large fleets.