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  (Source: media.avvo.com)
User privacy and costs regarding the integration of high-tech EDRs are the largest concerns

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may make event data recorders, or "black boxes," a requirement for all vehicles starting next month according to Wired’s Autopia.

Event data recorders (EDR) are devices already installed in some automobiles, and record information during vehicle crashes or accidents. EDRs cannot be turned off, and once electronically triggered by problems in the engine or dramatic shifts in wheel speed, the EDR records this vehicle input and produces a snapshot of the final moments before the accident. 

General Motors has installed black boxes in nearly all models with airbags since the 1990's. In North America, GM currently uses Bosch EDRs for its models.

"In the early 90's, we could get diagnostic data, seatbelt use and crash severity," said Brian Everest, GM's senior manager of field incidents. "Currently, we can get crash severity, buckle status, precrash data related to how many events the vehicle may have been in and brake application."

Newer vehicles can identify all of the above along with steering input and whether lane departure warning systems were used. 

Some people see EDRs as tracking devices that invade personal privacy, while others see them as helpful aids to accident-related cases. The main problem is that there are no clear universal standards regarding EDRs and who can access their data. 

Florida is one of 37 states that have no statutes barring the access to EDR data, while most of the other 13 states would allow police officers with a warrant to obtain EDR data. 

Car companies originally owned the data, but courts later ruled that vehicle owners and lessees owned the data. There are no federal laws regarding access to EDR data, but states stepped in and determined how much data those other than owners and lessees could access. 

"Until recently, there has been no industry standard or recommended practice governing EDR format, method of retrieval or procedure for archival," said Tom Kowalick, chairman of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers P1616 Standards Working Group on Motor Vehicle Data Recorders. "Even for a given automaker, there may not be standardized format. This lack of standardization has been an impediment to national-level studies of vehicle and roadside crash safety. It also addresses concerns over privacy rights by establishing standards protecting data from misuse." 

Some statutes, such as one in particular in California, came about due to insurance companies obtaining EDR data from users' vehicles without their knowledge or consent. 

In 2008, standards were proposed in an effort to make EDR data accessible to more than just automakers as well as prevent data tampering. These guidelines would also prevent the removal or deactivation of the black boxes, making them useful and trustworthy. In addition, standards would clearly state who has access to the data and what they can do with it. 

While black boxes can be used for vehicle crashes in order to assess what happened, they can also be used to determine whether an accident was caused due to a vehicle defect, which would lead to a recall if necessary. 

The NHTSA's pending mandate may assist in overall driver safety, but there are still many concerns regarding EDRs. For instance, automakers and buyers hope that newer, advanced black boxes do not heighten the price of new vehicles. But perhaps the biggest question involves access to the EDR data. Many wonder if insurance companies and car dealers will be allowed to look at EDR data and deny claims based on that information. 

"Our position on EDRs is that we would only use that data in a claims investigation with customer consent or if we're required to do so by law," said Leah Knapp, a spokesperson for Progressive Auto Insurance. 

For now, how much an EDR affects you depends on what data points it records and where you live, but the NHTSA's new standards are expected to clarify this universally.



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RE: Hmmm.
By FaceMaster on 5/25/2011 8:52:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the same complacent "hope for the best" attitude that's leading us straight into fascism.


It's a big grey line, I know, but you're not going to persuade me to take your side if all you're going to do is criticise me and call me stupid for trying to see the benefits of this sort of system.

Tell me, at what point should we stop doing things like this? Should we remove black boxes from aeroplanes? Should we take down the internet because of 'privacy issues'? Maybe we should get rid of credit cards and the like, because they let people know stuff about us.


RE: Hmmm.
By tng on 5/26/2011 10:52:18 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Should we remove black boxes from aeroplanes?

Can't do that because planes past a certain size/passenger load are mandated to have "Black Boxes" by both US and European laws (other countries as well).

Point is that at what point does the same happen for cars? It would start with big rigs (cargo trucks), buses, and other large vehicles (may already be that way), but end up being on everything including motor cycles. All declared by our government.

Also if the laws states that data recovered from the recorder can't be used against you, do you believe that?

Can you see the day that a cop pulls you over, reads your data from your recorder via a transmitter that is now required by law and then writes you a speeding ticket because 10 minutes before he even seen you, the data can place you in a 55MPH zone doing 75?


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