(NECN/NBC News: Charles Hadlock, Forth Worth, Texas) - Beginning in September of 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 clues such as vehicle speed, steering, whether the brakes were applied and if the driver was wearing a seatbelt.
The insurance industry supports the move, even though most drivers are unaware that 96 percent 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," says car shopper Ray Brown.
Privacy advocates say the government and automakers are steering toward a slippery slope by spreading an intrusive technology without policies to prevent the misuse of information.
Information collected from data recorders is already showing up in lawsuits and some high-profile accidents. For example, the 2007 accident involving former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. The data recorder showed Corzine was not wearing a seatbelt and the SUV a state trooper was driving was going 91 miles an hour, well above the speed limit.