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NTSB Recommends Black Boxes For All Cars 612

Posted by timothy
from the we-know-what-you-did-last-summer dept.
linuxwrangler writes "Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board are recommending the government require data recorders in all passenger vehicles. David Sobel of EPIC says his group has privacy concerns - especially when drivers are unaware of the presence of the devices. Auto black-boxes have been covered here before."
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NTSB Recommends Black Boxes For All Cars

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  • All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:42AM (#9876801) Journal
    They're not recommending that anyone try and install a black box in my '85 Gemini. Also, I'm Australian, but the point is that since new cars know a lot about what's going on, it should be logged. Are there any IT professionals out there who don't want to log stuff when things go wrong?
    • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ohdawg (773768) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:49AM (#9876824) Homepage
      I think the point of logging data is to capture vehicle and road/driving conditions when "something happens" (i.e. accident). Cars already log a lot of troubleshooting data today with the advent of OBDI and up. I think mainly the privacy concerns are related to someone misusing the data in the black box. I, for one, wouldnt be too thrilled if one day when you go to register your vehicle (an annual event) or get your car inspected/smogged, they download the data and see how many times you've exceeded "safe speeds" and then issue citations and tickets. I'm sure there are good uses (such as determining fault in an accident), but the potential for abuse could be disturbing.
      • Re:All NEW cars (Score:4, Informative)

        by eliza_effect (715148) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21AM (#9876964)
        I'm sure there are good uses (such as determining fault in an accident), but the potential for abuse could be disturbing.

        I think a lot of people aren't aware of the extent that this happens already. In most newer cars, if there is a major accident (most likely determined by damage to a specific crumple-zone or airbag deployment, though I'm not quite sure) the spedometer will simply stop, pegged at the speed of impact. While this is certainly not infalable, and of course the car could have been accelerating, breaking, or any number of other factors could have been in play at the moment of impact, it is designed primarily to help investigators determine cause and fault in an accident.
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dnoyeb (547705) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:43AM (#9877484) Homepage Journal
          I am not familiar with speedometer 'stopping.' Especially considering most instrument clusters are electronic these days, and without power they lie on 0.

          The devices are just small pieces of flakey evidence that can help in confirming or questioning someones statement about how the accident went down. Without a statement they are not much use. Not at all for investigators. More for 'expert' witnesses.

          Its basically back down to who has the better lawyer. I have yet to hear any person-person lawsuits to use these 'black boxes' only person - Car manufacturer. I'll give you one guess as to who is really pushing the government to mandate this. Its car manufacturers MO. Don't want liability for invasion of privacy? get the government to do it...
          • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hb253 (764272) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:15AM (#9877649)

            No no no, it is NOT the car manufacturers who are pushing. It's the INSURANCE companies. Remember they have a vested interest in keeping track of every "bad" thing you do in order to jack up already exhorbitant rates.

            I REALLY hate insurance companies.

            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

              by fredmosby (545378)
              But if they jack up the rates of bad drivers maybe they can lower my rates.

              Insurance sucks but in all fairness the costs are really going up because of all the frivolous lawsuits which the insurance companies have to pay for. So I blame scum-bag lawyers that file those suits and the people that hire them.
              • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Informative)

                by John M Ford (653329) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @10:46AM (#9878900)
                From someone [consumerwatchdog.org] with a different opinion.
                ...property and casualty insurers also saw investment earnings drop last year by $13 billion. Doug Heller of the watchdog Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights complains insurance companies now expect customers to make up for their investment decisions.
                ...
                In the insurance industry game, it's heads we win; tails the consumer loses. When the stock market is doing well, the insurance industry reaps the benefits. When the stock market falls apart, the consumer pays the price.
                It's easy to hate lawyers. But in this case, if you follow the money, it leads elsewhere.

                -John
              • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

                by RESPAWN (153636)
                But if they jack up the rates of bad drivers maybe they can lower my rates.

                Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha h ah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

                Get on thing straight. Insurance companies are in the business of making money. Period. End of story. They most certainly will not lower the rates of good drivers. If the insurance company got their hands on this data, the data will only be used to increase the rates of those drivers who have incidents. They have no reason or motivation to lowe
            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Informative)

              by walt-sjc (145127)
              If you are doing 60 in a 30 and have an accident, I have no problems with the insurance companies jacking up your rates. In fact, I have no problem with them charging you $30,000 a year. Maybe that will keep insane drivers that refuse to drive responsibly off the road (the courts don't seem to.) Driving is a priviledge; not a right.

              I have many reasons to hate insurance companies: how they handle claims, all the little exclusions, getting billing and coverage correct, etc. Jacking rates to irresponsible dri
      • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Interesting)

        by halowolf (692775) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:22AM (#9876970)
        I, for one, wouldnt be too thrilled if one day when you go to register your vehicle (an annual event) or get your car inspected/smogged, they download the data and see how many times you've exceeded "safe speeds" and then issue citations and tickets. I'm sure there are good uses (such as determining fault in an accident), but the potential for abuse could be disturbing.

        This basically sums up my views on the situation as well. I think it would be a good idea that such data be used to help determine fault in an accident. Perhaps it could even act as a deterrent to reckless unsafe driving. However such technology doesn't offer the descretion that say a police officer or judge has in determining the guilt in say exceeding the speed limit. What if you are speeding because you are trying to get a dying relative to a hospital or something? The law says that you are speeding, a police officer can determine that perhaps you actually need some help not be punished with a fine.

        I can easily see however that transport departments would be eager to be able to query the data to apply tickets, especially to bolster the money made from fines and help the fill the government coffers.

        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cluckshot (658931) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:01AM (#9877570)

          The issue described by the parent of this post is profoundly important. It goes to the very issue of citizen rights. In a country where your rights are issued you by the State and you live on its permits, the logic of allowing this sort of information to be used against you without a serious condition such as an accident or personal injury is hard to understand. There you didn't have the rights anyway. In such a case there is no question of the use of this data.

          In Nation(s) such as the USA where the Citizen has the rights and they are leased to the State by a Constitution, the authorities must have "Probable Cause" to bring a warrant. (Real or imminant danger of an offense) A person cannot be compelled to testify against themselves. In such a State this data is not just a matter of its existence, it is a matter of violation of citizen rights to compel it.

          I know I will hear from some idiot who remarks about driving not being a "right" but a "privilege." This has always been a questionable ruling of law covering the requirement to carry a drivers license and for "implied consent" for Drug testing of drivers (DUI). If people accept that such an "implied consent exists, they may as well allow electronic devices that can control the car's speed and prevent violations all of the time. But this would defeat the purpose of the violations and citations because they are really issued for revenue reasons and not public safety reasons.

          Also violations that are issued by vending machine as these would be have absolutely no consideration of circumstances or conditions.

          It might be acceptable under "Probable Cause" to evaluate the data if an accident has occurred. There you have probable cause to look.

          Non USA posters will probably not understand this because the logic of most if not all other nations is that the power is the right of the State (Nation syn State) and a person merely gets their rights from a State. Note the (s) after State(s) above. The USA is 50 Nations in a Constitutional Federal Republic. These are nations on their own right. Several of these States approximately equal the greatest of States of the rest of the world (Non-USA) in economic power. Most of these States (USA) have armed forces ranking on their own in the world as world powers and I am not talking about the US Army/Air Force/Navy etc. The Citizens of these States(USA) have their rights and they lease them by Constitution to the States etc.

          • Blah Blah Blah... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by El Camino SS (264212)
            In Nation(s) such as the USA where the Citizen has the rights and they are leased to the State by a Constitution, the authorities must have "Probable Cause" to bring a warrant.

            Except that recently, all of your rights went out the window. It is only a matter of time before bad things creep into your criminal and civil case files.

            If an attorney will subpeona it, and your car is in a tow lot or in a police impound lot, there is a judge somewhere that will allow it. At that point, just getting it in
          • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tgd (2822) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @09:27AM (#9878142)
            You missed an important point in your tirade about personal rights.

            You have the absolute right to drive a vehicle any time you want, any way you want without registration or license in the US... as long as its on your private property.

            The government isn't granting you the privelidge to operate a motor vehicle, they're granting you the privelidge to operate that vehicle on property owned by the state. The state owns the roads. The state owns the highways. They can (and will) grant you license to use them, and can (and will) revoke that license.

            If the government wishes to require that vehicles operated on their roads must track your speed, be able to limit that speed electronically, be disabled by officers or any other option, if the lawmakers representing the people pass those laws, thats just the way it is. Pull that crap out and drive around in circles inside your private compound if you don't like it. You have that right.

            I disagree with this as well, but it does nothing to help prevent these laws from being passed when you use silly, irrational arguments spouting about personal rights like one of those "IRS is illegal" whackos.

            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ad0gg (594412)
              Constitution says people have the right travel. Some cities are only connected by interstates, therefore only way to travel them between them is by interstate which requires a motor vehicle license. People have the right to travel between the two cities and it can be argued that this right is being infringed upon by requiring a license(Priveledge).

              • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

                by radish (98371)
                Or you could get a taxi. Or you could get someone else (friend, relative) to drive you. Or you could fly. Or you could walk. Or you could ride a horse. Or ride a bike. Or a unicycle. Hell, if there's a river you could swim/cayak/tube/sail. The constitution says you cannot be prevented from moving from point A to point B. It makes no mention of how you might make that transition., and you have no universal right to use any specific method of transport.

                Think about it - people did move around before the inven
            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Informative)

              by linuxwrangler (582055)
              You have the absolute right to drive a vehicle any time you want, any way you want without registration or license in the US... as long as its on your private property.

              Not true. For a long time California had two drunk driving statutes that were virtually identical except one was "on a highway" and the other was anywhere else. (Note: "highway" in legal terms means essentially any public street, road, etc.) I believe there was a similar split for reckless.

              They have updated the laws since I last looked at

            • Talk about irrational! The "State" doesn't hold property as a person does. It holds property for us (the citizenry) to use. This may certainly involve regulation, but it also may not. The ever-blessed "State" is only holding the property (in this case, the roadways) only insofar that no private holder suffices for unqualified public access. And that's it, the very nub of my gist.

              You should get out of this irrational "State ownership" crap. Try leaning towards the reality embodied in the term "the S
            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Rares Marian (83629)
              In Maine, some guy actually owns the highway and it so happens that that highway is better taken care of than any I've seen.
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Informative)

          by zerocool^ (112121) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:41AM (#9877802) Homepage Journal


          From what I've heard on previous discussions on slashdot and elsewhere, these things as a general rule only record a continuous 15-second queue of material - storing 100,000 miles worth of one second data plots covering speed, breaking force, steering direction, etc would be fairly difficult without more extensive equipment and storage, not to mention largely unproductive. The black boxes are only interested in what happened the last 15 seconds before the crash, which is useful information.

          //tinfoil hat off

          ~Will
          • I've read a lot about the iPod mini hacks. Everyone may not know this, but you can save a lot of money by doing the same thing with new cars! Just buy a new car and pull out the multi-terrabyte hard drive stored under the driver seat.

            Replace it with your old 40 Gig drive. The system still works, but now it only records the last few days of driving, instead of the complete record.

            It's almost like getting a free car!
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pgpckt (312866)

          However such technology doesn't offer the descretion that say a police officer or judge has in determining the guilt in say exceeding the speed limit. What if you are speeding because you are trying to get a dying relative to a hospital or something? The law says that you are speeding, a police officer can determine that perhaps you actually need some help not be punished with a fine.

          Hmmm...the police can determine you need help and not issue you a ticket you say? Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I mea

          • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

            by shawn(at)fsu (447153)
            Why wouldn't they have taken the ambulance, it could have gotten them their quicker and safer. Besides they are all first responders so even if there was a delay they could have handled it. I'd much rather have the professionals than some panicy father to be half driving and half worring about the child. I don't think the story said anything about the officer ticketing them before they drove off. It wasn't until they decided that they didn't want to wait. Hey thats fine but now you have to pay for your act
      • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kiatoa (66945) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:24AM (#9876979) Homepage
        If by "safe speeds" you mean they have from location and speed information determined that you where speeding and thereby breaking the law why would you consider that to be abuse? If the posted speeds are unreasonably slow then get involved in local politics to have them changed. Living in a rural area with the typical speed limit being 35 mph poses an interesting conundrum. On open roads as a driver doing 45-50 feels perfectly safe but as a pedestrian or bicyclist an auto blasting by at that speed seems very dangerous. I both drive, walk and bicycle on the roads and would love to see the speed limit enforced but in sections where it is safe I've broken the law and sped. If a black box helped make enforcing that speed limit afordable (i.e. more enforcement without hiring more police) then that'd be great. If the speed limit was rigourously enforced maybe the drivers frustrated by putting along at 35 would be more supportive of sidewalks and bike paths.
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:01AM (#9877327)
          "If a black box helped make enforcing that speed limit afordable (i.e. more enforcement without hiring more police) then that'd be great."

          Enforcing laws that the majority disagree with using machines merely brings the law into disrepute. There's a reason why we have people enforcing most laws, because they can actually decide when behaviour is dangerous and when it's not, and act accordingly.

          A machine can't make any such decision: your 'black box', for example, would happily let people drive at 35mph in a 35mph limit in thick fog on a snowy road, but would stop them from driving at 40mph on the same road in clear weather. That's ludicrous and most people understand that... enforcing laws in such a stupid way will simply convince people of clue (at least those not already convinced) that the law is an ass.

          I'd also add that in the last decade we've seen speed cameras almost completely take over from traffic police for traffic law enforcement here in the UK. The end result is that the standard of driving in this country has gone from quite decent to absolutely appalling, and the death rate, which had been dropping for decades, has started to go up.
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Interesting)

          by zurab (188064)
          I like California basic speed law [ca.gov]:

          22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

          IANAL, but as far as I know, at least in California, the posted speed limit signs are "suggested" speed limits for drivers; meaning it's not a hard legal maximum speed at which you can drive
          • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jim Starx (752545)
            California isn't unique in that. Most state laws AFAIK have that you can drive no faster then the speed limit and no faster then is safe. Meaning speed limits are hard upper bounds but you can still get a speeding ticket under that limit if the conditions make the posted limit unsafe.
            • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Informative)

              by Spoke (6112)
              In CA, you will notice 2 different kinds of speed limit signs. "Speed Limit", the maximum recommended speed in normal conditions, and "Maximum Speed", the maximum speed allowable, not to be exceeded.

              Maximum speed limit signs will be either be 55mph-70mph signs. You exceed this speed by 1mph, and you can receive a citation. Basic speed law #22350 does not apply.

              However, regarding a speed limit sign, these limits are set based on some set of traffic surveys and street conditions (I'm not sure of exactly h
          • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:44AM (#9877817) Journal
            IANAL, but as far as I know, at least in California, the posted speed limit signs are "suggested" speed limits for drivers; meaning it's not a hard legal maximum speed at which you can drive in that area.
            Police officers will issue citations to speeders according to their common-sense judgment. An obviously prudent motorist exceeding the limit by 10 klicks will escape scot-free, whilst another will be issued one if he:
            • swerves around cars
            • reads a paper whilst driving
            • uses a cellphone
            • has a red Ferrari
            • fondles his girlfriend's slit/clit
            • has a beaten-up 1964 Ford Fairlaine
            • has out-of-state plates
            • driving while black
            • smokes a joint
          • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Informative)

            by Martin Blank (154261)
            22348. (a) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 22351, no person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway with a speed limit established pursuant to Section 22349 or 22356 at a speed greater than that speed limit.

            Sections 22349 and 22456 have to do with highway speeds and the maximums allowed (55, 60, 65, or 70, depending on surveys), and 22351 has to do both with driving on a highway at less than posted speeds and with enforcing and challenging prima facie speed limits on streets and alleys.

            Summary:
        • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jim Starx (752545)
          Because people don't want their cars looking over their shoulder. Everyone speeds, and most people are sane drivers and can do it reasonably. Thats a good thing for police, it lets them pretty much cherry pick the psycho's off the road and not bother the rest of us (at least that's how it should work). A computer can tell you how fast you were going or how sharply you turned, but it can't tell you whether someone is sane or not.
      • Im sorry officer, I just jack it up and rev the tires to 140MPH for a few hours every few days, just for kicks you know.
      • You are worried that someone abuses the black box but you are abusing the absence of a black box by breaking the law.

        Lets put it differently, what would you call someone who is charged with rape and ordered to donate DNA for investigation and then says NO because it may finger me in previous rapes I commited?

        I think current law is pretty clear. "THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT DIPSHIT".

        So claiming this black box will stop you or at least catch you at breaking the law IS EXACTLY THE REASON THEY ARE TRYING TO INTR

        • by ohdawg (773768) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:00AM (#9877119) Homepage
          Lets put it differently, what would you call someone who is charged with rape and ordered to donate DNA for investigation and then says NO because it may finger me in previous rapes I commited?

          This is an entirely different situation.. obviously if you've been ORDERED to provide a DNA sample, there is a QUESTION as you whether or not you were involved with the crime.. hence, you were CHARGED with rape in the first place..

          A better question would've been, what would you call someone who is NOT charged with rape and ordered to donate DNA for investigation and then says NO?

          I'd call that guilty until proven innocent..
        • Lets put it differently, what would you call someone who is charged with rape and ordered to donate DNA for investigation and then says NO because it may finger me in previous rapes I commited?

          It's called the 5th Amendment. You have the right not to incriminate yourself.

          And no, people don't want their cars looking over their shoulder. There's nothing wrong with that either. You say it's using technology to proove someone broke the law, which if it was, would be perfectly fine. But it's using technol

        • by vegaspctech (769513) <vegaspctech@yahoo.com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:13AM (#9877367) Homepage Journal

          You are worried that someone abuses the black box but you are abusing the absence of a black box by breaking the law.

          Let's not forget that he may be abusing the absence of a hidden camera in his bedroom to break the law there too. And he sure could be abusing the absence of a GPS implant in his skull to go places he shouldn't.

          It's not just the system mis-used to capture non-criminals that alarms me, but the system used at all to treat people as guilty until proven innocent. If you ask me, it's you if-you're-not-breaking-the-law-you've-got-nothing- to-fear types to blame for the privacy and liberty we've lost thus far.

        • It's unfortunate that nobody understands the real issue here. The issue is not privacy. The issue is force -- the fact that force will be employed as a means to an end. Government will force the manufacturers to produce according to government's idea of what's right, rather than producing according to what the consumer says is right. They will do this by forcibly extracting revenue from the people, diverting some of it to feed the new regulation, and keeping a cut for themselves.

          Privacy? It's irrelevant t

      • Re:All NEW cars (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ColaMan (37550)
        Pity about the person who routinely takes their car to the drag strip, or the race track, or the dyno.

        Or the other person (such as me :-) who happens to live near an area (the Northen Territory, AU) which has about 2000km of highway with *NO* posted speed limits, other than a general "not driving in a fashion that would endanger others" rule that law enforcement can use to catch true idiots.

        Sounds like an excellent market for a mod that feeds the box a hard (or slightly varying) upper speed limit, to be f
  • by captain1010 (800750) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:48AM (#9876820)
    Fortunately Big Brother's motives always so obviously have our best interests at heart...
    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:33AM (#9877011) Homepage
      Of course, because the government sees us all as children.

  • by calebb (685461) * <slashdot@benefieMOSCOWl.net minus city> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:52AM (#9876835) Homepage Journal
    I remember when we first started hearing about the idea of black boxes being put in passenger vehicles... The first thing all the supporters said is "Your car already has one! You know... your check engine light, etc." Other supporters realized how a black box would help them if a drunk driver hit them & it was his word against them. The black box would tell the truth.

    Then the opponents of black boxes mentioned that sooner or later, insurance companies & Big Brother(tm) would be pushing for mandatory black boxes.... and not just for noble purposes! They reasoned that a new insurance policy could introduce some new limitation clauses - like if you were going more than 3 mph over the speed limit when an uninsured motorist collided with you, your uninsured motorist coverage would be voided.

    Well, here we are, a few years later and NIST is recommending mandatory black boxes.

    Skeptics: 1
    Naive Technology Connoisseurs: 0
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...but they can already do this if you're in an accident w/o wearing a seatbelt.

      Unfortunately, because we have voided our personal responsibility in accidents to insurance companies, it will be left to the insurance companies to decide what is best for THEM and their share holders, not their insurance customers.

      Much like insurance companies trying to declare bankrupcy to get out of paying claims in California after the big earthquates in SFO and LAX, because they were undercapitalized...

      But, should an in
  • Good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by appleLaserWriter (91994) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:54AM (#9876851)
    The privacy issues need to be worked out, but black boxes are the next real step towards fully autonomous vehicles. We've got great nav systems, and proximity sensitive cruise control (on the super luxury cars). Next we need a good account system for the cars (black box) for precisely tracking location. then we need high res tracking and freeway data. After that, we can sit back, play doom 3, and let the computer drive us to work.
    • Re:Good (Score:2, Funny)

      by eliza_effect (715148)
      What if I want to shift the gears myself?
      Oh well, I guess I'll just have to play Gran Tourismo on the in-dash.
    • Re:Good (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) *
      Actually, there's a bit of a difference here...

      Auto-driving systems need good measurements of what's happening right now, but they don't exactly depend on the black box because they don't particularly care about what's happened in the past... they only need data on what the present state is and what future actions have been announced by others.

      Black boxes, by definition, record what has happened over a given interval and keep that data on non-volitile memory so that the infomation can survive a crash.

      In
  • Proposal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:57AM (#9876859)
    How 'bout we set up the following system:

    1) The black box will register things such as speed, acceleration, position of the steering wheel, gear shift, pedals, emergency brake, etc.

    2) It will not monitor stuff such as GPS

    3) It will loop every [30] seconds or so (just a suggestion, maybe a little more)

    4) Data will only be available following a crash in which injuries or serious physical damage resulted or with the owner's consent.

    5) Optionally, this information will not be available to insurance companies or for prosecution in either civil or criminal cases. I think that the data should be available, but I can see valid objections to this.

    That way the safety people get what they want -- a system that will provide information about what happens in a crash -- while not acting very big brothery.
    • 5) Optionally, this information will not be available to insurance companies or for prosecution in either civil or criminal cases. I think that the data should be available, but I can see valid objections to this.

      Such black box info is already discoverable in civil and criminal cases in several states. Why make it unavailable?

      Seems like it would be easier to ascertain the truth in court with scientific readings, rather than with two parties' lawyers arguing with each other.

      • Seems like it would be easier to ascertain the truth in court with scientific readings, rather than with two parties' lawyers arguing with each other.

        That's why I think it should be available. However, I can certainly see how forcing people to carry a device in their car that would provide potentially incriminating evidence could be seen as a violation of search and seizure and the right against self incrimination.

        However, I think the public good of having what would probably be a significantly higher ra
        • Re:Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

          by linsys (793123) <linsys@intrusion ... m minus language> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:39AM (#9877036) Homepage
          "However, I think the public good of having what would probably be a significantly higher rate of correctly assigning blame in accidents outweighs the privacy issue, at least from a philosophical standpoint. Not sure about a legal one."

          People like you are the ones allowing our Civil Liverty to go down the tolit. You really mean you want to give up ANY MORE privacy to the U.S Govt just so we can see who was wrong in a car wreck..??

          This is what the media does for the govt they scare people all the time with this car accident lead to 60 people dead, this black drug dealer killed 2 white wemen, we are changing the US state of alert to code RED because terrorists are in the US be carefull at your local malls and stores.

          Then the next thing you hear is this bill got signed to protect us against terrorists (Patriot Act gets signed), make GUNS illegal so Black drug dealers can't shoot white wemen with them any more.. new gun laws get passed (more criminal have guns less Citizens have them)... now we need black boxes in cars because 60 people died.. black boxes help law enforcement with car crash investigations (read, INS companies get off the hook more often and are paying less and less claims due to black boxes), Single Mother Killed in Car Accident, Hit by drunk Driver family asking community for support due to INC company refusal to pay because she was going 6mi over the speed limit children devistated, New Sky Rise Complex gets built in Denver Colorado Today (INS companyes have more money to invest in realestate)...etc...etc...etc..

          Really WANA save lives protest your Govt from invading countries and blowing them up, stop the media from acting as an agent of terrorism, I think 9pm news causes more terror then the black drug dealer I walked by down town yesterday.

          WAKE UP, stop buying into all this B.S hype!!
          • Re:Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Epistax (544591) <epistax AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:54AM (#9877531) Journal
            This is what really gets me angry and the civil liberty preachers. Everything is compared to the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is a horrible piece of legislation and I personally believe someone must be held accountable for it getting passed, and go to court on treason charges. Comparing the Patriot act to a black box is like comparing a gun to an x-ray machine: it just doesn't work.

            I see a black box as an only means to be exonerated in crashes involving things such as road rage. Sometimes there's a crash where they cannot reconstruct what happened. This data might be all that is needed to understand what happened.

            Sorry, I do not understand how knowing what a car was doing X seconds before a crash intrudes on civil liberties in anyway. If someone had access to it whenever they wanted then maybe, but that's not the case now, is it? Who says you/next of kin does't have to sign to have the data released? Who says there doesn't already have to be probably suspicion?

            I gotta fire this right back at you. If you want to PROTECT civil liberties, do NOT simply attack every form of progress that could be used in such a manor. DO make sure that when the technologies are adopted your concerns are addressed.
  • by innerweb (721995) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:03AM (#9876877)
    ...this is something I have been asking for for a while. Every day, we have to deal with people driving 50 to 60 down our street (30 mph limit) where our and other's children are playing and riding bicycles.

    Any black box recording technology has the ability to be abused, but the potential for abuse flies in the facce of this:
    Jeff - Killed in 1987 by a drunk driver.
    Carole - Killed in 1993 by a wreckless driver.
    My HS Prom King and Queen - Killed in 1984 by drunk driving.
    Peter - Paralyzed from waist down in 1982 by an elderly person who could no longer drive.
    Tonya - Scarred over 80% of her body by a car fire started when rear ended by a speeding car.
    Lisa - Killed in 1996 by a driver who lost control while speeding around a curve.

    There are many more I can recount, both dead and alive who have been victims of people who had no business driving a car. The little black boxes might help get them off the road and save lives. As far as using them for anything else. We (the people) will allow it to go just as far as we are ignorant. I am certain it can be abused in so many ways. I am not certain the deaths and maimings it would be able to prevent (or the simple correct assignment of cost of damages) would be that light a reason to install them.

    I can not think of any reason to be afraid of a black box unless it pinpoints you being somewhere that you should not have been. (I may be being naive). Black boxes record only enough data to determine what caused an accident to happen. Driving habits could be incorporated, as could other data. Would it be worth it if it cut the number of people killed and maimed on our roads in half?

    InnerWeb

    • by dakryx (646923) <dakryx@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:15AM (#9876930)
      So... how does this black box prevent deaths and maiming?
    • Until there's a black box for poor drivers, people will continue to die, unfortunately. Cars don't have to be speeding to be dangerous.
    • Black boxes record only enough data to determine what caused an accident to happen.

      Which does nothing for the victims of those accidents.

      Your emotional response to tragedy is making you ascribe magical properties to devices.

      KFG
    • by lingqi (577227) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:09AM (#9877148) Journal
      US need a MUCH MORE rigorous drivers training program - most other country with a large road network has one: Japan, Germany (I think most of europe), heck even China. Black boxes may convict the dangerous drivers, but it won't stop people from being killed.

      At least support something that will solve the *root* of your problems: doing away with generations of bad drivers teaching their kids who turn out to be even worse drivers.
      • In much of Europe, you have to go through the classes and pass a very difficult driving test. The thing is that this is abused, and the testers and instructors will mark you down for things you do not actually do but that are also entirely subjective such as jerky driving which is enough to have you failed. So unless you personally know someone in the police you need to give the requisite bribe. Poland is particularly notorious, but a German I know recounts the story of how the tester opened the glove box a
      • by josecanuc (91) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:45AM (#9877821) Homepage Journal
        Yes! Amen to this!

        Long ago when I took my drivers' education course at the high-school, my other classmates didn't care about learning the rules. They thought they already knew enough, because they know how to press on the pedals...

        It didn't help that one of the worst drivers in the class missed 7/15 of the multiple choice questions that it takes to get a license to drive in Texas, yet the grader working for the Department of Public Safety said, "Well, we will just pass you anyway."

        I think that in the United States we need a very rigorous written AND on-street test and that drivers should be retested yearly.

        I think that the laws in place ought to be enforced ALL THE TIME. If the speed limit is X, then you had better not drive over X MPH, even if you think it's a stupidly low limit. The solution to "bad laws" isn't to break them, but to get them changed (granted, this doesn't happen as quickly as just breaking the law.)

        I think that routine traffic laws can be enforced by automatic device. I do not think that this violates anyone's privacy rights. I think that a person's right to privacy is severely diminished when a person is in a public place (like streets...) Privacy laws are intended to ensure that what you do in private stays there, not to make sure that you can break the law if you don't get caught. The law is the law and if you break it, why does it have to be in front of a police officer to have any weight?

        I do note that I do not have a solution to the problem of ensuring that automatic enforcement is accurate and unabused. I am sure that it is possible, but I am also aware that some police districts in the U.S. are corrupt. That still does not give anyone permission to break the laws that are in place.
  • I'm all for it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:04AM (#9876882)
    I'm all for this idea provided that it usage or data can never be used to incfluence insurance premiums or acceptance. If there is an accident, than it should be available, and only then. Unfortunately this is highly unlikely to ever be accepted by the insurance companies. What they want is the ability to monitor you very carefully so as to provide rate increases on the fly. And to a certain extent in some parts of the world, they already are.

    Offtopic ~ If health insurance companies really consider your life to be worth a million dollars, why don't they provide life insurance?

  • ... when they can no longer make out in their cars without the fear of someone listening into their doings.

    While this may come off as a joke, I'm being %100 serious. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this has some implications on exact when these black boxes do function and when they don't. (IE: they only work when the car is in motion, etc)

    Sunny Dubey
  • by Veridium (752431) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:10AM (#9876898) Homepage
    ...and just agree to be encased in styrofoam at birth, tagged with RFIDs at birth, and have video cameras installed throughout the land.

    That's where this is all heading at this rate. If it's not the "well reasoned" tech connosieurs pointing out how the new technologies will benefit us, it's the "terrified of terrorists" crowd crowing about how terrorists need to be stopped at all costs.

    Baby steps to 1984. Or is it brave new world? Either way, liberty and privacy are slipping away like sand through our fingers. Yeah, black boxes could do alot of good things, but you have to believe in Santa Claus at this point to not think this isn't going to be used against us.
  • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:11AM (#9876908)
    1.all cars with black boxes must state clearly somewhere that the device is fitted and what it records.
    2.the owner of the vechicle must be able to get access to the data (i.e. dump and read it, not change it)
    3.the only other people who should legally be able to read it are the police with a warrant. (or e.g. the NTSB or some other agency, again with a warrant)
    4.It should be illegal for anyone else (e.g. mechanics) to dump the data without permission from the owner.
    and 5.they should not record any information that would link the car to the location the car was at at the time the data was collected.
    • 1. if every car had it then it would not need to be labelled just as cars currently don't carry a label "contains engine". It would be taken for granted. Cars without would be labelled. 2. Dump it? So after an accident I hit erase? Kinda defeats the point doesn't it? 3. YES YES YES. ONLY the police with the normal investigation tools should be able to access it, NOBODY ELSE. The police can already examine a car at a crash site or get the car confiscated if it is a suspected hit and run. A black box would be
    • I think it would be sufficient for the car to record only a 15-30 second FIFO of telemetry that is saved to Flash if the car detects an impact. NOTHING OTHER THAN AN IMPACT SHOULD CAUSE DATA TO BE PERMANENTLY SAVED. PERIOD. This solves the issue of safety that they use to try to justify this without alarming privacy advocates.
  • no surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chegosaurus (98703) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:16AM (#9876941) Homepage
    Seems every government is obsessed with logging everything. Like most things of this ilk, there's maybe one good use for the data, and a thousand bad ones.

    It won't make people safer. It won't stop people speeding. After a week drivers will forget the thing is even there, till someone somewhere uses the data in it to fuck them in the ass. (Metaphorically.)

    We all commit traffic violations, however minor. Once the population are all criminals, they're *so* much easier to control.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:21AM (#9876963) Journal

    The pros are simple. Lets make it go a bit further and install a box in very car that records exactly what the car is doing at all times. Furthermore if a car is found driving without a box the police will know instantly and can stop it.

    What will happen? Well a sharp drop in car thefts, kinda hard to steal a car that is constantly reporting were it is. Tech like this is already in use and it is helping.

    Currently hit and runs are on the increase. With such a system the offending car could be easily traced.

    Fewer high speed chases. Police can just hang back and see where the car is going to end up.

    People disabling the device would have the problem that the car "winks" out on a certain spot. Very easy for the police to then raid the shop were the device is disabled.

    No more need for speed camera or police resources wasted on policing the roads.

    So a clear win eh?

    After all what is on the CON side?

    A lot whining, oh such a black box means I can't lie about an accident anymore. I can't speed anymore. I can't use my car in a crime anymore.

    Yeah well guess what, society depends on people not doing these things. So the only ones hurt are criminals and who cares about them.

    Any person that raises privacy issues and names one of the above points is an enemy of privacy and is probably being paid to undermine the real privacy advocates.

    The real issue with any system like this can be illustrated by the following question. IBM once was asked to setup a system that allowed a certain country to register the religion of each person and that of their parents. Pretty harmless right? Right, read up on the holocaust sometimes and more importantly read up on the time between when the registration took place and when the gas chambers opened.

    The problem is not how such a black box will be used now. The problem is 10-15-20 yrs from now. When someone totally different then the current goverment may be handed a tool that tells them exactly where everyone is.

    Sadly this issue will get overshouted by all those who don't want to be fingered by their own car in an "accident" who don't want to get a fine because their car reported it was speeding. The criminals protesting are in fact the advocates for introducing such a system.

    Personally I am undecided. Cars seem to get more and more out of control with the drivers somehow loosing touch with basic human values. SUV's are expensive gas guzzlers wich are hard to park, don't fit on roads, are unneeded and have a far higher chance of killing in an accident (pedestrians don't stand a chance and small cars get crushed) and yet SUV's sell like hot cakes.

    For some reason when people get in a car they seem to need the state to watch their every move or they won't behave by the values they themselves told the state to enforce.

    Perhaps the greatest enemy to privacy is human nature. Give a human anonimity and he won't human anymore. Just play a round of CS or chat on freenet and you will see what I mean. Perhaps we need a big brother/community watching over us.

    Hell, test youreselve, read /. at -1. No? Then you want a police webstate.

    • by fuzzybunny (112938) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:18AM (#9877177) Homepage Journal
      I have a fast car. I like driving fast. I regularly break the speed limit. I have no excuse; I am a good driver, but if I'm caught it's my fault, period. I pay the fine and probably watch out a bit more in the future.

      But, you know what? I live in a small, central European country that is regularly used by large truck convoys to get from A to B. A lot of the drivers, despite mandated rest stops and trip recorders are tired, doped up on speed, bored, inattentive, whatever.

      A few days back, I was tootling along on the highway, actually doing the speed limit for once, looking for my exit, with big fricken heavy transports ahead of and behind me. Out of nowhere, don't ask me, I didn't see him approach, this monster freighter passes the guy behind me and, not seeing my little Audi, decides he wants to be where I am. What do I do? I punch it. Real fast. 200 km/h ensured that I was not where that truck was going to be. 80 klicks over the limit is one hell of a ticket here, and you try talking your way out of that one, especially with an overzealous cop.

      Same thing last week--an over-tired old guy in a sedan (must have fallen asleep at the wheel) veers out next to me. Once again, punch it and get away. Yes, there are legitimate grounds, however thin and contrived they may seem, to break traffic rules. An unfortunate side effect of playing big brother to casual speeders (like me) is that you also, inevitably nail the innocent. And frankly, I do not trust police bureaucracy to adequately differentiate between the two.

      As for No more need for speed camera or police resources wasted on policing the roads. -- well guess what? Who nails tailgaters? Drunk drivers? People who recklessly endanger others in various ways? I _like_ having cops knocking about my roads. One helped me when we broke down in the middle of nowhere once.

      Speed cameras? Go ahead. Put them by tunnels, construction sites, schools, blind curves, anywhere a speeder can _really_ endanger others. But don't start with this blanket surveillance horseshit--it's not going to make anyone safer, and will inevitably be misused as a revenue generator for cash-strapped PDs. No, I don't think this reasoning is an excuse so I can go on speeding--I am not a dangerous criminal, but I DON'T WANT TO BE WATCHED 24/7 OUT OF BASIC PRINCIPLE.

      As for the rest of your post, well thought-out and written. Look up "Hollerith machines" for more info--link here [jewishvirtuallibrary.org].

      And I wholeheartedly agree with you about the SUVs.
      • I have a different but similar situation. I'm a volunteer firefighter. Here, we all have "real" jobs so we do not sit at the station all day. Instead we have to leave work and go to the station for any emergencies that occur.

        Technically in my state in the US it is ok for me to have a little flashing red light in/on my car to "warn" other drivers when on the way to the station, but legally they do not have to get out of my way, nor am I allowed to break any traffic laws in my personal vehicle. Only once we
  • With this raising such a big red flag when it comes to privacy concerns, and as these start to become more widespread, I'm sure we will eventually be able to find detailed instructions on the web on how to disable these devices, perhaps even in such a way so that they appear to be broken "by accident", so as not to arouse a lot of suspicion.

    Then it's just a matter of figuring out how to install Linux on them. ;)
  • by Kaboom13 (235759) <kaboom108&bellsouth,net> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:25AM (#9877195)
    My main concern with black box data being used to determine fault, etc. is that currently they have little to no security other then a proprietary connector. There is nothing to prevent tampering with the "evidence". Even if the box data is encrypted, etc. you can still tamper with the vehicles sensors. I have no problem with technology being applied to enforce the law, but we can't take human judgement out of the equation. I can think of lots of situations that could unintentionally cause the computer to report bad data, not to mention malicous tampering. Also the kind of information reported (speed, direction of wheels, braking, engine status, etc.) can be interpreted to fit a preconceived notion. Sadly cars are turning more and more into a consumable good like electronics, to be used then thrown away, or turned over to a manufacturer's repair facility. Part of this is due to an inherent increase in the complexity of cars, but a lot of its because people can't be bothered to do things themselves (and thus demand servicable cars). Ever try to work on a car in the driveway of your home, in the suburbs? Won't be long before the neighbors are bitching and calling code enforcement etc. to breath down your neck (all but the poorest areas of where I live are becoming like this).
  • by cnelzie (451984) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:34AM (#9877219) Homepage
    ...lower insurance rates for those of us that obey traffic laws, aren't the cause of accidents (even in no-fault states) I am all for it.

    Does this really get in the way of my privacy? Nope. I don't think the Black Box is going to read my mind and broadcast my thoughts for all the world to see. It's not going to track everywhere I go through GPS and inform some insidious 'Shadow Government' of my whereabouts.

    Nope, all it should do is contain crash data. I don't see anything wrong with that.
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:32AM (#9877443)
      "...lower insurance rates for those of us that obey traffic laws, aren't the cause of accidents (even in no-fault states) I am all for it."

      Slight problem: the only traffic law it will be able to tell if you obey is driving below the speed limit, and it's been well established that the safest drivers are the 85th percentile by speed, which is usually above speed limits on American roads. So if you always stick to speed limits you're probably a significantly more dangerous driver than many people who break them regularly.

      But the biggest problem with this rabid attack on speeding is that it's nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with restricting personal mobility. Only a very small fraction of accidents are due to people driving faster than the speed limit, and the concentration on speeding means that people come to think they're safe if they just stick to the number printed on a piece of metal at the side of the road, and provided they drive that slow there's no problem with not indicating, cutting people up at junctions, driving along reading a map or talking on a phone, or any of the other stupid things I see people doing on the road every day. Those morons are being completely ignored here in the UK because there are almost no traffic police left to do anything about them, while speed cameras sprout everywhere.

      "Nope, all it should do is contain crash data. I don't see anything wrong with that."

      Right, and speed cameras will only ever be used in accident black-spots.

      Seriously, you're incredibly naive if you can't see yet that every time the government introduces a 'sensible' measure like this it's just to get their foot in the door to use it to control the population. Have fun a decade or two from now when you're living in a total surveillance, total control police state, brought about by these 'safety' measures.
    • by tkrotchko (124118) *
      "...lower insurance rates for those of us that obey traffic laws, aren't the cause of accidents (even in no-fault states) I am all for it."

      1) How does it know if you're obeying traffic laws? the only thing it could track is whether you're under the speed limit, and that isn't really the primary determination of whether you're a safe driver.

      2) When has your insurance rates ever been lowered for any reason? I've been driving for almost 30 years, and they've never gone down. How will you know they've gon
  • by ReidMaynard (161608) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:39AM (#9877239) Homepage
    National Transportation Safety Board investigators concluded the 86-year-old driver had stepped on the gas instead of the brake and plowed into a farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 16, 2003.

    They came to that determination without testimony from the driver, George Weller, who refused on his lawyer's advice to talk with the investigators.

    OK, so he says I push on the gas and ploughed over people BY MISTAKE. Since the BLACK BOX could not READ HIS MIND I fail to understand how such data would straighten this case out.

    There are, however, many cases where a black box could help. In fact as we understand it, much of this data is recorded allready by airbag circuitry.

  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:00AM (#9877322) Homepage Journal
    I don't have any expectation of privacy in respect of how I drive my car on the roads. I'm in a public place, controlling a lethal piece of machinery, I should be held to account for my every action.
  • Our rights online (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moosicals (802610) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:05AM (#9877340)
    Good point, Timbo, but everyone concentrates on how we get tracked on the move. Isn't the real danger the databases that all this information is feeding into. Scares me. Check out http://www.computing.co.uk/specials/1153206 [computing.co.uk]
  • by leperkuhn (634833) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:19AM (#9877674) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe I haven't read a single post yet in favor of this. If you get in a car crash, you can tell if you were speeding. If you were doing 100 in a 35 and hit a kid, you should be in jail, and the black box can make that happen.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:30AM (#9877733) Journal
    I think the only people that have issues with this are eitehr criminals or your run-of-the-mill speeder. I fall into the latter catagory.

    However I have been in numerous accicents, all but one of which were not my fault. However two of those incedents the insuance companies settled with a mutual fault decision.

    I think having the data logger would very clearly show what exactly happened, and in those two cases, save my insurance rates.

    Now, big brother can watch you, or they can watch your back for you. Unless these black boxes have unique identifies and wireles signals, I'm venturing it'll be watching your back for you technology. As long as someone has to get into my car (get physical access from the box) and plug a reader in, the only time I'm going to allow that is under court order or if I am innocent. If police start black-box checking at road blocks for speeders liek the do drunks, then I would not be for this. However I do think it is an impractical scenario.

    Now as moore's law applies eventually they wil be able to store 100,000 miles worth of data. Not only that but an on board accelerometer can establish your every lane change and turn. You can then coalesce the data and come up with every place you've driven to.

    The easy way to fix this is just to limit it to the last 5 minutes or 5 miles, which is done easily enough.

    Now on the subject of speeders. Every speeder has to admit that if speed was a factor it should be known. After all we know we do speed. However if speed is not a factor because of a larger violation (failure to stop, etc) then I doubt any court will see your minor speed infraction as relavant. But if it is a major speed infraction, then you can have unclean hands, because mostly likely you would not have caused the accident.

    If you are so concerned about speed, then get off your butts and change the laws. And I think that is the reasonable and right way to address your concerns. If we all speed, then that is civil disobediance on a wide scale and the laws need reform.

    Remember only criminals are afraid of the truth (in an accident).
  • One more time... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:32AM (#9877745) Journal
    Driving is NOT A RIGHT, but a PRIVILEGE that is granted by the State to those who can demonstrate their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roads.

    In addition, driving a motor vehicle on a public road is, by definition, A PUBLIC ACTIVITY that is witnessed by hundreds of eyes. Therefore, one CANNOT HAVE ANY EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY WHILE DRIVING A MOTOR CAR ON A PUBLIC ROAD.

    Hence, a black box in a car is perfectly acceptable.

    And no one bitches about black boxes in aircraft, locomotives, trucks and buses whose drivers have to fill-in log-books. So why should a private motor-car be treated any differently???

  • by nusratt (751548) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:55AM (#9877905) Journal
    "If the APD wants my DNA to see if I raped a girl on my way to work, and I know that I didn't, then I can go ahead and give it to them."

    You seem completely willing to trust
    -- that your DNA will be **requested** only for purposes you approve (and not for things like investigating dissidents in the guise of investigating crime)
    -- that your DNA will be **used** only for "honorable" purposes
    -- that your DNA, AND ALL INFO RELATING TO OR PROCEEDING FROM IT will promptly be eradicated.

    Despite the actual historical evidence from police behavior in even the most "liberal" of countries, you retain such trust.
    How sweet.

    It's really depressing to be reminded of the number of people who are seduced by the argument which says, "If you're doing nothing wrong, what have you to fear?"

    Some famous person said, "All that is required for evil to triumph, is that good people do nothing."
  • by Open Council (704163) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @09:02AM (#9877959) Homepage

    Has much thought been given to the quantity of data involved and how long it will it need to be archived ?

    Accidents happen very quickly and so, to be useful in accident analysis, readings would have to be taken many times a second. Readings would probably include wheel position, accelerator position, braking state, grip, suspension movement, temperature, weather(!) as well as all the internal readings from inside the engine. This could amount to a considerable stream of data.

    How would this data be stored ? Solid state or hard drive ? Would there need to be a mandatory minimum size for the log? One week's data or one year? Could it be an offence not to have enough capacity?

    Would the on-board log wrap round or would it get reset? Could the driver reset the log? Would it be an offence to reset the log immediately after an accident?

    If the log was used for maintaining the car would the garage doing the servicing have to download the log? Would they have to pass on details to the police? Would you be allowed to carry out servicing at home or only at "authorised" garages?

    In imagining uses for this log it is interesting to note the differences between the US and the UK when it comes to the use of aircraft "black boxes". US airlines are required to record a minimal set of parameters and then these are used as part of any crash investigation. UK airlines, on the other hand, are required to record hundreds of parameters and each log has to undergo computer analysis after every flight. This analysis looks for values (or combinations) outside normal ranges and is used to trigger preventative maintenance and more detailed safety inspections.

  • by io333 (574963) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @09:11AM (#9878027)
    All GM and Ford cars already have this, and they make the data available in the event of accidents.

    Does anyone know if any of the other large manufacturers (e.g., BMW, Toyota, Honda) do this? Is there a list somewhere?

    Here is a link [sfgate.com]to see how the data is being used from GM and Ford vehicles.
  • by DCheesi (150068) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @10:31AM (#9878765) Homepage
    The main problem with this, as with most electronic data gathering, is that it doesn't tell the whole story. It can tell people what your car was doing at the time, but it can't tell them about the dog in the road, or the reckless behavior of the idiot who forced you out of your lane before speeding away. There's always more to it than just the vehicles that were physically involved in an accident.

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