Senator BARBARA BUONO
District 18 (Middlesex)
Concerns disclosures by motor vehicle manufacturers and subscription services of presence and use of vehicle recording devices which track vehicle movement, performance, and certain driver behavior.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning motor vehicle recording devices and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. As used in this act:
"Dealer" means a person who is actively engaged in the business of buying, selling, or exchanging motor vehicles at retail and who has an established place of business.
"Lease agreement" means a contract or other written agreement in the form of a lease for the use of a motor vehicle by a person for a period of time exceeding 60 days, whether or not the lessee has the option to purchase or otherwise become the owner of the motor vehicle at the expiration of the lease.
"Manufacturer" means a person engaged in the business of manufacturing, assembling, or distributing motor vehicles, who will, under normal business conditions during the year, manufacture, assemble, or distribute to dealers at least 10 new motor vehicles.
"Motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle as defined in R.S.39:1-1.
"Recording device" means a device that is installed by the manufacturer of a motor vehicle, and may be commonly referred to as an event data recorder or a sensing and diagnostic module, that does one or more of the following for the purpose of retrieving data after an accident:
(1) records the motor vehicle's speed and direction;
(2) records a history of where the motor vehicle travels;
(3) records steering performance;
(4) records brake performance, including, but not limited to, whether brakes were applied before an accident;
(5) records the driver's seat belt status; or
(6) transmits information concerning an accident in which the motor vehicle has been involved to a central communications system.
"Subscription service" means a business entity that, for a fee, provides cellular phone technology capabilities that allow a recording device to record a history of where a motor vehicle travels or that allow transmission to a central communications system information concerning an accident in which a motor vehicle subscribing to the service has been involved.
2. a. A manufacturer of a motor vehicle that is sold or leased under a lease agreement in this State, and that is equipped with a recording device, shall disclose that fact in the owner's manual for the motor vehicle or through a written statement either mailed by the manufacturer to the registered owner of the motor vehicle, or delivered by the dealer, at the time of sale, to the buyer of the motor vehicle, in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
b. Data recorded on a recording device may not be downloaded or otherwise retrieved by a person other than the registered owner of the motor vehicle, except under one of the following circumstances:
(1) the registered owner of the motor vehicle consents to the retrieval of the information;
(2) a court that has jurisdiction orders the retrieval; or
(3) a motor vehicle dealer or an automotive technician retrieves the data for the purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle.
c. A person authorized to download or otherwise retrieve data from a recording device pursuant to subsection b. of this section, shall not release that data, except to share the data among the motor vehicle safety and medical research communities to advance motor vehicle safety, and only if the identity of the registered owner or driver is not disclosed.
d. (1) If a motor vehicle is equipped with a recording device that is capable of recording or transmitting information concerning where a motor vehicle travels or an accident in which the motor vehicle has been involved, and that capability is part of a subscription service, the fact that the information may be recorded or transmitted shall be disclosed by the subscription service in the subscription service agreement.
(2) Subsection b. of this section shall not apply to a subscription service that meets the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection.
3. The registered owner of a motor vehicle shall have the right to disable, or to have disabled, any recording device in that vehicle.
4. It is an unlawful practice and a violation of P.L.1960, c.39 (C. 56:8-1 et seq.) to violate the provisions of this act.
5. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill requires manufacturers of motor vehicles equipped with recording devices to disclose that the vehicles are so equipped in the owner's manual, or through a written statement either mailed by the manufacturer to the registered owner of the motor vehicle, or delivered by the dealer, at the time of sale, to the buyer of the motor vehicle, in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. A recording device, commonly known as an event data recorder or a sensing and diagnostic module, retrieves or transmits data concerning vehicle movement, performance, and certain driver behavior, including data relating to motor vehicle accidents.
The bill provides that the data from a recording device installed in a motor vehicle may not be downloaded or released by any person other than the registered owner of the motor vehicle unless:
the owner consents to the retrieval of the information;
a court orders the retrieval; or
a motor vehicle dealer or an automotive technician retrieves the data for the purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle.
Under the bill, in cases where the recording device is part of a subscription service, the service must disclose in their service agreement that the recording device data may by recorded or transmitted. By making such disclosure, the subscription service would gain the authority to retrieve and utilize the recording device data.
The bill further stipulates that motor vehicle owners have the right to disable, or to have disabled, recording devices in their vehicles.
The bill specifies that violations of its provisions are unlawful practices under the Consumer Fraud Act. Such unlawful practices are punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.