The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has passed a new rule that requires auto manufacturers to inform customers whether their car has an Event Data Recorder installed. The EDR, which works similarly to Black Box flight recorders found in airlines, will record details about vehicle speed, steering wheel movements and brake pressure as well as the vehicle’s movements.

If this all sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory, think again. According to the NHTSA, roughly 64% of 2005 models are equipped with the data loggers and only a handful of manufacturers currently include information about the EDR, which can usually be found in the owner’s manual.

Proponents of the recorder state the system allows investigators to recreate crashes and determine their causes, they can be equipped with automatic 911 emergency contacts and finally, crash information can be used to help develop better road designs. Unfortunately, collected information is often used by attorneys and insurance companies to lay blame. Currently the laws allow information to be collected without the knowledge of the vehicle’s driver, but now car companies must adhere to the new rule by the start of the 2011 model year.