The NHTSA proposed rule would require event data recorders in most light vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2014.

Driven to Distraction

More than 8 percent of full-time U.S. workers commute an hour or longer to work, and 61.1 percent of those with long commutes drive to work alone.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports about 8.1 percent of U.S. workers have commutes of an hour or longer, and more than 586,000 full-time workers have "megacommutes" -- meaning they travel at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. The average one-way daily commute for all workers is 25.5 minutes, and 23 percent of workers with commutes of an hour or more use public transit, versus only 5.3 percent of all workers, the bureau reported March 5. The numbers come from the bureau's annual American Community Survey.

"The average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes. For some workers, using transit is a necessity, but others simply choose a longer travel time over sitting in traffic," said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau statistician.

Titanic commutes and time wasted in traffic jams aren't the hottest transportation issue of the moment, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's December 2012 proposed rule to require event data recorders in most light vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2014, stole the spotlight and prompted hundreds of people to file comments alleging the mandate would be an unconstitutional violation of motorists’ privacy rights.

"This is a horrible idea worthy of '1984.' It's intrusive and a violation of rights," a typical comment reads. "People should be able to drive where they please without the government monitoring them. Such a device would also be an expense that would add to the cost of buying cars. As a result, buying a car would be more difficult for poor people, and others would be deprived of other, better uses of their money. That's unjust. This proposal is wrong. SCRAP IT.”

”This idea is the motor vehicle equivalent of a court monitored ankle bracelet. Total invasion of privacy,” another anonymous commenter wrote. As of March 31, at least 1,016 comments had been submitted and were posted at www.regulations.gov.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed more substantive comments on Feb. 11, 2013. Robert Strassburger, the alliance’s vice president of vehicle safety and harmonization, submitted a 15-page letter explaining that the alliance doesn't object to the concept of requiring EDRs in all light vehicles but strongly opposes NHTSA's plan to codify the mandate in a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 405. "The Alliance believes that information stored on an EDR is the property of the vehicle owner and should ordinarily not be accessed by anyone without the owner’s permission or as required by law," Strassburger wrote. "Additionally, even with the owner’s permission, any EDR data that is included in a publicly available database should be rendered anonymous by excluding at a minimum the last six digits of the vehicle’s VIN. Alliance members that have voluntarily installed EDRs in their vehicles to date have applied these principles.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety filed comments Feb. 19 supporting NHTSA’s proposed EDR mandate. EDR data will help crash researchers "better understand the influence of environmental conditions, driver input, and vehicle systems on crash causation and injury outcome. By requiring EDRs in all light vehicles," wrote Raul Arbelaez, vice president of IIHS' Vehicle Research Center, "this proposed rule will help us better understand how crashes and crash injuries occur and, therefore, how they might be prevented."

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2021

    October 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING
      On Route To Safe Material Handling
    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Normalization of Deviations in Performance
    • IH:INDOOR AIR QUALITY
      Arresting Fugitive Dusts
    • PPE:FOOT PROTECTION
      Safety Shoes Make the Outfit for Well-Protected Workers
    View This Issue