On January 1, a new law will go into effect allowing California's motorists to place five- to seven-inch high-definition "video event recorders" on the windshield of their cars.
State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, representative for areas of San Diego, Poway, and Escondido, authored the bill. Fletcher's aim for Assembly Bill 1942, according to the legislation that was passed in June of this year, was to "reduce motor vehicle deaths" and promote "safe driving habits and reduced accidents."
"Studies of both teen and commercial drivers found that the use of video event recorders, paired with behavioral coaching, improved driver safety and reduced accidents," reads the bill.
The recorder will capture footage on a continuous digital loop. It will automatically save any footage that involves deployment of the airbags, or any sudden stops or erratic maneuvers and will store G-Force values and global-positioning coordinates.
The driver can also choose to manually record aggressive driving behavior and record audio.
Fletcher's bill, however, didn't go without some resistance. Labor unions and civil rights unions opposed the bill. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters felt that operators of commercial vehicles should be given unedited copies of the recordings and have the right to disable the recorder up to 30 seconds before and after an event. The teamsters later withdrew their opposition after Fletcher amended the bill.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the requirement for drivers to post a notice inside the car informing their passengers of the recording was not sufficient.
The civil rights union objected to recording audio and ensuring that all passengers gave consent to have their conversations recorded.