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Windshield Video Event Recorders in California

Vehicle owners in California may now install Windshield Video Event Recorders if they wish to do so. The law was passed over strong concerns about safety and privacy. The law previously prohibited anything from being attached to the windshield or windows of a vehicle, but made exceptions for sun visors, devices used to pay tolls, GPS devices and stickers used for such things as entrance to state parks. The law also forbade the use of recording devices in vehicles, but made exceptions for black boxes - devices designed to record braking, accelerating and steering data prior to a collision.

A Windshield Video Event Recorder must be installed in such a way so as not to interfere with the deployment of air bags or the driver's ability to see. It must be installed in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side, a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver's side, or a five-inch square at the top center of the windshield.

The new law addresses privacy concerns by defining who owns the recordings made by Windshield Video Event Recorders, and who is entitled to copies of the recordings. Members of the Teamsters Union may receive an unedited copy of a recording within five days of a request at no charge. The ACLU wanted the law to allow only video recordings.

Instead, the new California law requires that a vehicle equipped with a Windshield Video Event Recorder have a notice posted in a visible location informing passengers that their conversations may be recorded. One reason that the law was changed to allow Windshield Video Event Recorders is similar to the reason for the exception for black boxes. Studies have shown that the data collected can be used for behavioral coaching to counter aggressive or inattentive driving. The coaching has been most effective among teenaged drivers and commercial drivers.