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New law mandates black boxes in all cars by 2015

Chevy fits a fairly large screen into the instrument cluster, showing trip information and turn-by-turn directions from OnStar. Back to review. Josh Miller/CNET

(CBS News) A recently passed bill will require all cars to come equipped with "black boxes" that record vehicle data. These Event Data Recorders (EDR), similar to their airplane counterparts, will record data such as speed, brake force and electrical systems monitoring. The days of a car crash being one driver's word against another look to be history.

Senate Bill 1813 (known as Map-21) mandates that automakers install EDRs in all new vehicles starting in 2015. The bill was recently passed and is expected to be approved by the House.

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration has been studying and mulling over EDRs in vehicles for several years, but has stopped short of requiring manufacturers to implement them, CNET reports. However, many auto manufacturers already use these devices to help engineers and mechanics perform diagnostics tests and identify malfunctioning parts.

Black boxes like these were instrumental in clearing Toyota of responsibility for the "unintended acceleration" accidents of 2009. They are also used in assistance systems such as GM's OnStar to alert emergency response services in the event of a crash.

MAP-21 will standardize which events the black boxes can record and require their installation in all vehicles sold in 2015 and beyond.

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