WASHINGTON -- Owners need to be told if their cars are equipped with event data recorders, commonly called ``black boxes," the government said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said automakers, beginning with 2011 model year vehicles, must disclose the existence of the technology.
The data recorders will also need to be more durable to protect the information during a crash, NHTSA said. Vehicles with the devices will need to collect at least 15 types of data, including vehicle speed, whether the driver was wearing a seat belt, and whether the driver hit the accelerator or the brake before the crash.
Privacy experts worry the information could be accessed by anyone and say most people don't know if they have black boxes.
Supporters say black boxes give investigators and automakers extensive data that can help them design better safety features and improved roads.
But Jay Stanley, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government ``punted on the most important privacy issues," such as whether the data are accessible to third parties without a judicial order and whether the devices can be turned off.