The White House has signed off on a plan requiring all cars and trucks manufactured in the future to come equipped with event data recorders (EDRs), or black boxes. Current estimates are that92 percent of vehicles today are already equipped with EDRs. One expected change is that the new regulations requiring that all data is easily accessible and standardized from one manufacturer to another. Proprietary formats cause problems when attempting to access information quickly.
What Information do EDRs Record?
Many people, whether for business or personal reasons, are curious to know what kind of information these devices record. In addition to some privacy concerns, people simply want to know what information these devices reveal about their driving habits. They also want to know who has access to the information as well.
Most drivers are happy to learn that EDRs do not collect identifying information about the driver, do not run constantly, and do not recover conversations taking place inside the vehicle.
But, there is a fairly long list of things they do record, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This list includes things like vehicle speed, brake activation prior to a crash, forces of impact, air bag deployment, seat belt usage, and engine throttle status. This information is often critical in determining the events leading up to and during a vehicle crash. It is also important information to have access to in the instance of a lawsuit or trial resulting from the crash or to have available for your personal or commercial auto insurance policy.
Concerns About Vehicle Black Boxes
While the White House has approved black boxes in vehicles, that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate concerns about what this means for drivers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has brought a few concerns to attention that are well worth considering.
Their concerns aren’t so much about problems with placing EDRs in vehicles as they are intended now, but about the lack of clarity about what can and cannot happen with black boxes in the future. They believe that it’s not enough to state that EDRs do not currently collect video, audio, or location-related data. The language of the bill needs to specifically prohibit the collection of this type of date. The EFF also believes that consumers have a right to know exactly what kind of data is gathered. Full disclosure is the only way to build a trusting relationship between consumers, car-makers, and the NHTSA.
The goal of using black box technology in vehicles is to collect information and gather data that will help make vehicles safer in the future. Consumers or business owners who choose to be active participants can do so with the understanding that they’re helping car-makers build a better and safer car for tomorrow.