Nightly News | December 08, 2012
>>> the consequences of bad driving habits could potentially grow now that the obama administration has okayed a plan to require so-called black boxes on all new cars sold in the u.s., just like those data recorders in planes that reveal the actions of pilots involved in accidents, the car versions will tell investigators what you were doing behind the wheel of your car. but privacy advocates worry about what else it may reveal. here's nbc's charles hadlock.
>> reporter: at the auto show today, buyers are checking out the latest models.
>> i want to go really fast.
>> it's what i want for christmas.
>> reporter: but shoppers of all new vehicles will soon get more than they bargained for, a data recorder watching a driver's every move. beginning in september 2014 , every new vehicle sold in the u.s. will be required to have a so-called black box . the boxes record the last few seconds before a crash, providing such clues as vehicle speed, steering, whether the brakes were applied, and if the driver was wearing a seat belt .
>> if you are guilty of something, it's going to hurt you. if you're innocent of something, it could be a real defense for you.
>> reporter: the insurance industry supports the move. even though most drivers are unaware that 96% of cars sold today already have data recorders installed.
>> people are dying on the freeways, and these people are trying to make it so that doesn't happen. that's a good thing.
>> reporter: but privacy advocates say the government and automakers are traveling toward a slippery slope by spreading an intrusive technology without the policy in place to prevent the misuse of information.
>> the two concerns that we have of this technology are, number one, that these black boxes should belong to the owner and the data on them shouldn't be available to police or anybody else without a warrant. and number two, that people are aware that these are in their cars.
>> reporter: information collected from data recorders is already showing up in lawsuits and some high-profile accidents like the one in 2007 involving former new jersey governor jon corzine . the data recorder showed corzine was not wearing a seat belt . and the suv a state trooper was driving was going 91 miles an hour, well above the speed limit .
>> no, i'm not. no.
>> reporter: it's a new mandated feature to be debated far beyond the showroom. charles hadlock, ft. worth.