Be careful what you wish for, because you just may get it. In their infinite wisdom (and in-depth knowledge of the automotive industry), our elected officials have determined that event data recorders should be mandated in all new cars sold in the U.S. The devices, popularly called “black boxes” will become a requirement for all new vehicles should the currently proposed Auto Safety Bill be signed into law. No one would argue that safer cars are a good thing, but are you willing to pay $5,000 to $10,000 more for a car equipped with a black box? What if that black box could be used against you to deny an insurance claim, or worse yet, prosecute you for a motor vehicle offense?
The proposed Auto Safety Bill specifies event data recorders that are fireproof, waterproof and will record up to 75 seconds of pre-crash data. Since our legislators know all about technology, I’m sure they were aware that the mandated devices will be the size of a shoebox, requiring a significant redesign of car models to accommodate the black box. I’m sure they were also aware that the additional cost will put new cars beyond the reach of most Americans; if a part cost an automaker $5,000 , the up charge to consumers will probably be double that. How successful do you think Chevy will be with the Malibu if it starts at $32,500.00? How many Fiestas will Ford sell if the price of admission begins at $25,800.00? My guess on both of these scenarios is “not many”.
Sure, I’m projecting here, and the Auto Safety Bill hasn’t yet been signed into law. There isn’t much doubt that it will be, and the cost to you and I will be significant. It’s yet another example of the “ready-fire-aim” approach of mandating technology before the consequences are fully vetted. I’m not an economist, but I can’t believe this will be good news for the economic recovery our elected officials keep promising.