Federal Regulators Want Black Boxes in Cars by 2015

Cars with Black Boxes

Automobiles sold after September 2014 could be equipped with a standard black box. The black box is exactly what many people know them as, recording devices.  The same boxes have become famous for many airplane crash disasters.

Events would be captured such as the vehicles location, speed of travel and how many passengers were in the vehicle. The National Transportation Safety Agency would like the public comments to be submitted on the document detail page: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Event Data Recorders. Regulators are giving the public until February 11th to voice their opinion on the mandated changes.

Initial reports were pointed towards the safety angle. Certain driving events would trigger the recording process and it would continue for 30 seconds.  Erratic types of behavior would initiate the recording such as extreme acceleration, quick braking and swerving. The data would be used for post crash assessments on vehicle safety and performance.

In theory this sounds like a great plan to capture data that would produce possibly safer vehicles in the future. Privacy advocates feel differently. The data that would be captured in the black boxes is extremely powerful and has its own price. Insurance companies and lawyers would love to get a hold of this data for their own gain.

Progressive insurance already offers a somewhat similar device in their Snapshot module. It plugs into the vehicle and the data it gathers is used to possibly lower your insurance rates based on your driving habits. Progressive claims that the average user saves $150 annually on their rates with the product installed.

Many car manufacturer already have voluntarily installed the black boxes on their own. Chances are your current vehicle has a black box installed and you do not even know it. They have been in vehicles since 1996 and 85% of new vehicles ship with them from the factory.

“Virtually every car that has an air bag has some kind of recording ability,” says James Casassa, of Wolf Forensics.

The current law does require that manufacturers include any type of notice of the black box. This obviously could change with the data being used by more people.

Who owns the data that is recorded? Who has access to the data once it is recorded? Will the black box have the ability to be disabled by the consumer?  What happens to the data that has been recorded when the car is sold? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that will be brought up over the coming months on the topic.

Mandatory Black Boxes in Cars Spark Controversy

Mark Greenblatt looks at the privacy, safety debate over new vehicle technology.

Black boxes to be required in cars

Soon, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require the recorders be in all new cars and light trucks.

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