• Aug 22, 2006

Starting in 2011, automakesr will be required to inform consumers if their new vehicle includes an event data recorder, or "black box". Such devices have recently come under fire from privacy advocates, as manufacturers have been somewhat less than forthcoming about information on the devices.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) will also require that any data recorder be capable of gathering at least 15 pieces of information, but stopped short of requiring that the devices be installed on every new vehicle. Currently, over 60% of new vehicles include black boxes that are triggered by the deployment of a vehicle's supplemental restrain systems.

As expected, no one seems satisfied with NHTSA's ruling. Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook was quite unhappy after hearing that the recorders will not be required across the board, while representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union did not like the fact that certain issues regarding the use of crash data were not addressed.

[Source: AP/Yahoo!]



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  • 27 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's my car, it's my black box. I drove my car, the blackbox recorded my data, I own the data, it's mine and I'll keep it to myself.

      I don't mind a blackbox at all. I mind nosey insurance and law enforcement (the ones lobbying to the blackbox in the first place) getting in my data.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, let's start building as big rocket to hold all the people who think for-profit corporations and government (politicians) will do the right thing. If you want your personal freedoms reduced because "you have nothing to hide", well then you deserve what's coming to you. You can be first on the rocket out of here. They rest of us don't want to be part of your pathetic naivety. Please consider moving to you own imagined Shangri-La and take your fantasy based ideas with you.

      If it's not already clear, I'm with those who think these systems are bullshit.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #15 Didn't you know if you wrap your head in tinfoil it blocks all transmissions to the CIA!? HAHAHAHAHA YOU'RE A LAUGH!
      • 8 Years Ago
      "The ability to transmit this data in real time to any location connected by satellite is currently available. There is also technology already available to shut down your engine, locate your position to within 3 feet by GPS, lock, or unlock your doors, and listen to conversation in your automobile."

      hj,

      If you think that's funny, I think you better start watching Court TV or the Discovery channel. Any special on high tech/law enforcement should help.

      Here's a hint, think about the relationship between the government and the telecommunication companies. Dude, I'm not into conspiracy theories, so I'll let you do your own research....
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have already been a witness at a courtroom proceeding where black box evidense was appropriated by the prosecution, and admitted by the judge. This resulted in a conviction of speeding for the man who was driving in the accident. (A woman was killed). The box provided the data that the car was exceeding the posted speed limit by 9MPH. This not a "story", as I will provide the case name, date, and location. Contact me at "pitranger@yahoo.com". Please provide the word evidence in the subject box. Furthermore, this conviction and the aformentioned evidence are currently being utilized by the victims realitives in a wrongfull death civil suit. There is currently data being collected that records more than just your speed. It also records braking, lateral G-force, seatbelt use, and other data. The ability to transmit this data in real time to any location connected by satellite is currently available. There is also technology already available to shut down your engine, locate your position to within 3 feet by GPS, lock, or unlock your doors, and listen to conversation in your automobile. It's called Onstar. It is the desire by many to bring all this data collection technology together and keep any motorist within the set parameters of any guidlines desired. I have several pre-box cars tucked away in my shop for use when this becomes the law of the land.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I see lots of ignorance of how the system actually works here. The modern car is chalk full of sensors. Everything from incoming air temperature to the weight of objects in the passenger seat to the speed of the rear wheels is constantly monitored while a vehicle is running. Depending on the manufacturer three main electronic modules will collect and use this data, the Powertrain control module (PCM), the Body Security Module (BSM) and the Restraint Control Module (RCM, pictured).

      The PCM collects your engine performance data, wheel speed and environmental factors in addition to gas pedal and brake usage. Combined with auxiliary modules it uses this data to enhance the performance of your vehicle. It adjusts the throttle, timing, air/fuel blend etc. to give you good performance at optimum fuel usage. It stores a fraction of your usage data to optimize shiftpoints and other factors to meet your driving style. Currently most PCMs do not have nonvolitile memory, so they are reset when you disconnect your battery. In the future that may not be the case.

      The Body Security Module is just what it sound like. It senses if your key is correct, controls locking/unlocking, and disables the vehicle if it thinks a theft is in progress. It knows how many times you've pressed a key on your keyfob, and uses that to prevent theives from "Spoofing" your keyfob by recording and playing back the "unlock" signal. Unlike the PCM, disabling the battery will not wipe the BSM's memory.

      The RCM is what contains most of the crash data, and is what most people are refering to as the "Black Box." Ironically, this one is the most controlled by the government. NHTSA mandates what is recorded and how long, and requires RCMs to be stored for 10 years after removal from a vehicle. Depending on the supplier, the module has limited storage space and only holds a fraction of your driving history, mostly clustered around the seconds preceeding a crash.

      In the near future, all this data will be available to the manufacturers remotely. The demand for improved vehicle quality requires the engineers to know more about the circumstances of a problem then the two line comment they currently receive from dealers. It also allows them to update modules with improved software and fix all the bugs that make it out into the field instantly, without recalling the vehicles or waiting for them to visit the dealer for a different issue.

      Customer requirements demand this to occur. It will happen.

      The question of course is "Does this violate our right to privacy?" The answer is,
      "It depends." It depends on who the automakers share it with, and how the government uses it.

      Given the huge amount of frivolous lawsuits against Ford, Toyota, GM, Honda, etc. they will resort to using this data in court to defend themselves. This is a good thing. The fear of lawsuits directly adds cost and prevents features from reaching vehicles. People should not be able to blame automakers for their own mistakes, and conversely automakers should not be able to blame their customers.

      Vehicles have flaws, tradeoffs and mistakes. No automaker hits 100%. By the same tolken, no driver is perfect. The additional data should clear up who is truely at fault without bias.

      The true problem is when the Government uses the data to punish us, or the automakers sell the data to people who use it against us. Automatic rate hikes and tickets for speeding, or other infractions that are part of the normal commute are what we need to stop. This is the easier part to control. "We the people" can have our elected governments change the law to our favor. Do your homework, call your state representitives and see where they stand. Elect people who know about this issue and will vote your way.

      Crying about the "Patriot Act" or the evils of the CIA solves nothing. You will end up just like the British with their automatic GPS ticket systems.
      • 8 Years Ago
      To me this falls in the "what do you have to hide?" category. Just like any technology, this can be used either for or against you. Personally, I'd like to consider myself a good driver. Therefore, if I'm in an accident, I'd certainly like that to help prove my side of the story. The only people who should be worried are those that are causing accidents.
      • 8 Years Ago
      the audi "uncontroled accelleration problem" lawsuits are the reason these are now in cars. the car company can prove in court that you still had your foot on the gas pedal instead of the brake when you crashed. blame the lawyers for this one
      • 8 Years Ago
      ["It's my car, it's my black box. I drove my car, the blackbox recorded my data, I own the data, it's mine and I'll keep it to myself."]

      Amen to that. I get really sick of this "intellectual property" malarkey, the swiss cheese property that says that "you own it, but you don't really own it". You're absolutely right: it's MY box in MY car that I bought with MY money; therefore, it's MY data and I will whatever I want with it. End of discussion.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In my humble opinion, we are to blame, not government. Follow me, we want low insurance, faster commutes, better fuel efficiency. To do this insurance companies want more data on how to charge the worst drivers, faster commutes can be made by analyzing driver characteristics per area, and better fuel efficiency can be garnered with real time data. We want things and the lobbyists and big business pay the government to enact these rules, we are fostering a viscous cycle. I agree that this is a little too much Big Brother, but it also helps keep costs down. What do we really want, freedom from scrutiny or reasonable prices?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know that many people are uncomfortable with the possibility that their own car is "spying on them." These devices will be installed in most cars. Therefore, people should know how these devices work, their limits, what the data looks like, what NHTSA's ruling really means, and how their right to privacy relates to the data that a black box records.

      12 states have laws on black boxes so far. They all have been pro-privacy (rightfully so). Many laws have even gone as far as to prohibit insurance companies from requiring release of said data as a condition of their policies. Even though I am involved in law enforcement, I firmly believe that the data should only be treated as property of the vehicle owner and therefore be granted the same rights to search and seizure as any other property.

      These pages might be of interest:

      State Laws - (http://www.crashdataservices.net/stateCDRlaws.html)

      Black Box Examples (http://www.crashdataservices.net/CDRExamples.html)

      Vehicles with black boxes by Make -(http://www.crashdataservices.net/Vehicles.html)

      Explanation of NHTSA ruling - (http://www.crashdataservices.net/NHTSAruling.html)

      Black Box FAQ's (http://www.crashdataservices.net/FAQ.html)
      • 8 Years Ago
      2011 gives the automakers a long time to print disclosure stickers to put on the vehicle manuals, what kind of NHTSA bullshit is that, how about 2007.

      A lot of states, including California, are mandating black box disclosure much sooner, but I haven't been able to find any published lists yet. This is the closest I could get:

      "The leader in EDR technology is General Motors Corp. The car company, which has used the technology in a limited way since the 1970s, now equips all its models with the feature. Ford Motor Co. and Toyota have some of the capability. Chrysler has downplayed the recorders and said only a few of its models are collecting crash data."

      From this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A16860-2004Jul26?language=printer

      Please post if you have something better.
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