DOT considering 'black boxes' for cars

The Department of Transportation is considering developing a rule that would require new cars to come equipped with event-data recorders similar to the so-called "black boxes" that are used to gather information in airplane crashes.

The boxes compile information when the engines of cars are running such as the speed the vehicle is traveling, which can later be useful in reconstructing what happened in an accident. 

DoT officials told The Hill Friday that it has not yet been decided whether the agency will go forward with the rule, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is housed under DOT, has the proposal included in its "Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and Research Priority Plan" for 2011-2013. According to the report, the next step for the proposal would be for the DoT to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking.

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The Washington, D.C.-based Alliance of Auto Manufactures said Friday it generally supports the proposal, as long as the information recorded by the device belongs to the owner of the car and car companies are given enough to implement the new standard.

"Our concern is always the lead time," Auto Alliance spokesman Wade Newton told The Hill. "The time it takes, especially for automakers who don't have EDRs in their supply, it takes longer to get up to speed."

DOT said in its report that it wants to require EDRs for "heavy vehicles" such as trucks and "expand the availability and future utility of EDR data captured in light vehicles."

This article was updated with new information at 1:35 p.m.