WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING - Your Black Box Is Watching You


By Bob Weaver

Following the news of the Town of Spencer installing security cameras in their downtown, an area that city fathers must believe is susceptible to criminal activity, a list of "big brotherly" activities come to mind.

One is that your car's black box is watching you.

Black box you say. What's that?

You mean you did't know there is a black box in your car recording your driving habits.

Most likely if your car is equipped with airbags, it's equipped with a black box.

The black box has been pushed by insurance companies and safety officials.

Most car manuals are now mentioning the box.

See Car Owners Unaware of Black Box

The function of the Black Box - Event Data Recorder (EDR)is to deploy the airbags in an accident, but there's much more.

The box can record your driving habits, and certainly your driving at the time of a crash, your attention (or lack thereof), speed, compensation or handling of the vehicle.

The continuing concern is that drivers do not have access to the information collected in their cars' black boxes, or even know their cars have the devices.

Insurance companies and police departments have had the ear of the federal government, and can have access to the data to use following accidents.

The box has been used in a number of court cases around the country.

The EDR, known as a black box, has been installed in some vehicles since 1996. About 75 million vehicles now have them and 85 percent of new cars will come standard with a "black box," according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NHTSA is requiring that cars with EDRs store at least 15 kinds of data and have the information easily accessible by Sept. 1, 2012.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who reportedly allowed auto companies to voluntarily install event data recorders on their vehicles a few years ago, are now looking into whether the systems should be required.

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