Watch Out Motorists! Black Boxes Are Here!



Photo of an EDR

Ninety percent of new cars are already equipped with black boxes and the government would like to make it mandatory by 2015. The House is currently considering a bill to make it happen which will include funding provisions at taxpayer expense. Originally intended for safety, they can now do so much more. There are no guidelines for them and no limits as to who gets the information.

The Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is recommending a Black Box or event data recorder (EDR) be installed in all new cars by September 2014 to record car crashes with absolute accuracy.

The cost per car is only about $20 per vehicle but it is costing the industry $26.4 million which will grow as technological improvements are made and upcoming mandatory requirements are put in place.

Currently, recorders can record vehicle speed, engine speed, steering angle, throttle position, braking status, force of impact, seatbelt status, airbag deployment minutes before a crash and minutes after. It can even determine details such as traveling too fast over a speed bump. More advancements are planned. There are sensors under the seats which determine how many people were in the car.

One day, you will roll through a stop sign and find yourself getting a ticket in the mail. It will happen.

Thirteen states limit access to information stored and all the rest have no limits.

You can’t opt-out and right now the bill is being written in secret.

The National Motorists Association says that “there is no rational or scientific need nor justification to equip tens of millions of vehicles on a perpetual basis with black boxes.”

To be fair, one UK study showed that 20% of young drivers had fewer accidents because they knew the black box in the car. How legitimate the study is I can’t say.

The EDR is currently being used in lawsuits and criminal cases.

The storage devices will be able to include more-and-more data. Before Big Brother realizes they can give tickets out for every minuscule offense, we need to set limits or have an opt-out system.