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Automakers back black boxes

by Bill Cawthon on

In a shift from their earlier position, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Toyota will support legislation mandating event data recorders and brake-override systems for all new vehicles.

According to prepared testimony, Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing car makers, “The Alliance supports vehicle brake override standard that will reassure consumers that they can count on their automobiles. Brake override technology is a comprehensive solution to unintended acceleration whether it’s caused by faulty electronics, or a pedal getting caught in a floor mat.”

GM, Toyota and Mazda have already announced they plan to make brake-override systems standard in all new vehicles by 2013.

The Alliance also supports the mandatory installation of event data recorders but believes the standards proposed by Representative Henry Waxman (D-A) and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) will be too expensive to deploy. The lawmakers want a device that can record and hold all data from 60 seconds before a collision to 15 seconds afterwards.

The Alliance’s statement does not include comment on other proposed legislation that it opposes, including broad new powers for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would give it more authority to order recalls, higher fines and removal of the current cap on fines, and a proposed $9.00/per car fee to help fund the NHTSA.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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