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Cars > Blogs > Official Motortopia Blog > Question of the Day: How do you feel about black boxes in autos?


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Question of the Day: How do you feel about black boxes in autos?

By motortopia

Today's QotD was suggested by JerryandMary. Jerry recently came across this article talking about Crash Data Recorders, or "black boxes."

Vehicles have been equipped with "black boxes" since 1974 (GM was the first), but in the 1990s, they started actually recording data that can detail how you drive. They are tied in with the airbag system, and they record the speed, braking, acceleration, and other data for the period five seconds before an accident.

Opponents argue that it is too "Big Brother" and basically amounts to spying on drivers. Proponents, on the other hand, think they are an invaluable tool for accident reconstructions. In some cases, this data has been used to get convictions in deadly crashes.

So what do you think? Are these black boxes a tool that can help investigators, or do they step over the line and violate your privacy?

Tell us in the comments!

(By the way, you can find out if your car has a black box here.)

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 8 of 8

BigNuttyPaul’s Profile Photo
May 3, 2008 at 9:14 am
i'm with you 100% Jerry. i don't think the law should ever be abused. but we all know that as long there are tools that provide any info, there will be people that abuse those tools. that is not just in the automotive field or the the law enforcement field that statement rings true.
camaro1093ac’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm
I guess as long as we get to decide if they can use the info. or not it would be ok. After all it`s our property.
JerryandMary’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Hi BigNutty

I can certainly see your point. Of course I'm glad the system helped 71Lemansgirl too.

I do have concerns about it coming as standard equipment without my requesting it. I guess I'm a bit of a constitutionalist (not to infer that you are not) and I do fear big government.

It seems like prosecutors look for convictions, and sometimes are not afraid of trampling on the truth.

I just like to be cautious about the tools we give them being used improperly. My son is a law enforcement officer, and we do support the law, but we never support abuse of the law if we can help it.

BigNuttyPaul’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 1:39 pm
i'm with 71LemansGirl. one big question i have is how many people have onstar? that system is a lot more of a violation of priacy then any black box could ever be. or better yet how about driving with your cell phone. as long as the power is on they can track what you are doing with your "can't live without" cell phone. people get way to worry about "big brother" and don't worry about doing the right thing. the idea behind the black box was to try and make system that helped save lives, and in most ways it worked. anti lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, electronic brake force disribution, active head restraints, and the list goes on. without real world crash data how can you tell if system like these are going to do any good? just my take on the matter after working in the field for a number of years.
Redneck_Cowgirl’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 11:40 am
I am all for it. I was in an accident that the braking system failed and it was the recorded information that helped to prove I was telling the truth.
I am all for the newer system they are trying to get going for young drivers, it tracks the car, to alert the parents of speed, accidents, basically any unsafe driving. It send a message to the parents phone and/or email.
People dont realize how much big brother is in our daily life, so really what is the last 5 seconds of an accident? If that 5 seconds can help save lives or make driving more safe...I am all in.
JerryandMary’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 11:40 am
Honestly, if there is a way to abuse the data, some prosecutor will find it. Every single bit of information trusted to the powers that be, has been abused. It is not like there is a camera looking at all the events surrounding an incident, just a memory cell that remembers bits of mechanical information to be interpreted by some expert. I think we all know where that leads.

Besides Tony Soprano had his removed, and that is good enough for me. LOL

GoldyLocks’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 11:27 am
IF it only tracks the last 5 seconds, that is one thing, but who knows and is that law or something. It is one step away from being able to track a lot more. I had no idea there were these "black boxes" until Jerry pointed it out.
mohrt’s Profile Photo
May 2, 2008 at 11:23 am
Information for only the last five seconds? I don't think that could constitute a privacy issue. It could certainly be helpful in the "truth" of the matter of an accident. It's not like it's tracking where you have been or what you are saying.

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Cars > Blogs > Official Motortopia Blog > Question of the Day: How do you feel about black boxes in autos?

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