Last year, more than 25,000 Americans tragically lost their lives in automobile accidents. These horrific occurrences happen all too frequently throughout these United States. Although these numbers have decreased dramatically in the past decade, thanks in large part to improved vehicle safety, we still have a long way to go.
One step towards increased safety in our automobiles is the use of black boxes, also known as an event data recorder. These instruments are already in the majority of Americans’ cars and are used much like black boxes on airplanes. In the event of a mechanical failure or horrific crash, the black box is used to recreate the events surrounding the unfortunate event. Recently, the same method has been applied to the black boxes found in vehicles throughout the country. Law enforcement officials and insurance companies have turned to these reliable devices in an effort to find out who is at fault for the most tragic accidents.
There are those who argue that use of black boxes in the court of law is a violation of privacy for the automobile owner. I couldn’t disagree more — black boxes are directly linked to improved safety on our highways and roads. Further, the automobile manufacturers are trying to shield this information from public consumption as it could damage their credibility; much like vehicle recalls do.
By understanding what happened in the moments leading up to an accident, we can determine who was responsible and gain better insight to any mechanical malfunctions that the greater population of drivers should, and must, know about. I also believe drivers will adjust their behavior accordingly as they learn about these new developments. Reckless action behind the wheel of a car, such as speeding and drunk driving, is likely to decrease drastically when people are made aware of these developments.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for issuing recalls and technical service bulletins. However, this only happens after detrimental things occur. It is my hope that we can use black boxes and the information they record to get word out to the public sooner to relay crucial details surrounding the viability of the vehicles on our roads. These details should not be withheld from public consumption with so much at stake. Automobiles are a daily part of the lives of millions of Americans, and every driver deserves access to information pertaining to the overall state of their vehicle.
As the owner of multiple car dealerships, I’m well versed in the mechanical issues that people encounter every day. I’m also extremely aware of the horrific nature of car accidents and the pain they inflict on individuals and loved ones. More must be done to protect the people who use our roads and the black box is a huge step in the right direction. With the 2014 legislative session right around the corner, I will use my role as a state senator to investigate ways we can address these issues through existing law and new legislation.