Black Boxes to be Mandatory in 2014

Dec 27

Come one, come all! The year 2014 is bringing in a “new” proposal: event data recorders (a.k.a. black boxes or EDRs) are to be put in all car models manufactured after September 1, 2014.

To some, this may come as a big surprise. After all, these black boxes alarm those who appreciate their privacy! As of right now, these little monitors (that were originally used in airplanes and for investigators to determine what led to a car crash) collect data about the vehicle’s speed, whether or not brakes were stomped on or pressed at all, car forces at the moment of impact, the timing of the air bag deployment/air bag readiness, if the driver was wearing a seat belt or not, and information about the state of the engine throttle.

People who are worried about this new proposal are concerned about what these monitors have the potential to record. Horace Cooper of the National Center for Public Policy Analysis states, “EDRs not only provide details necessary for accident investigation, they can also track travel records, passenger usage, cell phone use and other private data—who you visit, what you weigh, how often you call your mother and more is captured by these devices.”

After reading a quote like this, it might make you rethink about the greatness of these black boxes. Sure, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood these data recorders will be wonderful—“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, NHTSA and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways safer. This proposal will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.” The reason NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the Obama Administration support this want for black boxes is understood, but if anyone has ever read the book 1984 by George Orwell or even watched the movie Eagle Eye, you can also understand the consumers’ want for privacy; “Big Brother,” if you will, can be a frightening topic!

Another thing that not too many people know (or previously knew) is that 96 percent of cars manufactured with the model year 2013 have already been equipped with these event data recorders (this is where we can see that this proposal isn’t such a huge surprise anymore). Chances are there was something said in the fine lines when buying these cars, but in all honesty, I doubt that most people were aware their brand new car contained a black box or something that recorded all of their actions. Take Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray of Massachusetts, for example. He crashed a government-owned car and originally told the police he was not speeding at the time of the collision and was also wearing a seat belt. Now, there isn’t anything currently proclaiming that he was being untruthful about wearing his seat belt, but the EDR showed the police that yes, he was speeding. The good news about Murray is that according to Scott Ferson, one of the spokesmen for the lieutenant governor’s campaign, Murray did not dispute any of the charges that were against him, paid his fine of $555 in full and also paid for the car that he crashed.

Sure, this “new” wave of black boxes seems to be keeping honest people honest (as it did with the lieutenant governor), but they are already in over 90% of all makes and models. If all cars by the end of 2014 are required to have these event data recorders, it will take away that much more of the privacy in Americas. Again, it’s not what they do now, but it’s what they have the capability and potential of doing. We watch all these movies about how terrifying the world can be in the future. Even if you have seen Pixar’s WALL-E, you are able to see how the world is overrun by robots; people are on the backburner. No, I don’t believe that EDRs are solely going to change our world by putting them in the remaining percentage, but it is just something to think about.

If and when this new proposal is passed, the only requirement I believe concerned consumers would like to see is that these black boxes will be used solely for their intentions and nothing more. The privacy of American citizens should be preserved.

“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.” George Orwell, 1984

One comment

  1. Red Green /

    You can trust me, I really am with the goverment!

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