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Drive Data Recorders

KNOW whose fault it was.
  (+10, -1)(+10, -1)
(+10, -1)
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(Previously: Road Data Recorders)

You know the "little black boxes" (actually orange, I believe) that record flight data and are used after an air accident to determine the behavior of the airplane prior to the accident? Make them for cars. Make them record the time, velocity, position (a la GPS, natch), and orientation of the car, perhaps with other vitals like amount of gas, weight of payload, and status of the brakes, seatbelts, and airbags. Make them tamperproof.

The only reasons I can see not to do this are cost (are large planes the only ones where this is currently used?) and privacy. People probably wouldn't be thrilled with the idea that someone could read their car's road data and show that they were at a motel when they were supposed to be at work, or idling by a street corner late at night in a bad part of town, or driving up and down a certain street a lot. As far as cost goes, it seems like this could save quite a lot of time for investigators and courts, who need only read the tapes from the DDR to determine what happened. As far as privacy, the system could be rigged to record only the last hour of a car's operation and then to save all current data if the system detects an accident took place (rapid deceleration, rotation of the car about an axis, or other "anomalous behavior").

Note: tomierna's link "Car Black Boxes" was deleted because it was "404 Not Found."

centauri, May 12 2000

ejs' link http://abcnews.go.c...ackboxes990601.html
[centauri, May 12 2000, last modified Oct 17 2004]

SmarTruck http://detnews.com/...3/05/s01-195474.htm
Features, among other things, a "black box." [centauri, May 12 2000, last modified Oct 17 2004]

AirIQ wireless car monitoring system http://www.airiq.com/
Drive Data Recording is one of their features. The "Customers" page lists several scenarios of the pattern "AirIQ helped us prove that our customer was guilty." [jutta, May 12 2000]

DriveCam http://www.drivecam.com/
Mostly baked - available now. [RobRoy, May 12 2000, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Manslaughter conviction based in part on air bag recorder data http://www.newhouse...e/jensen061203.html
Jun 16 2003: These already exist in cars that have airbags, and this story shows how the data can successfully be used in court. [krelnik, Oct 17 2004]

A Flight Data Recorder for Your Car http://www.business...3117_1963_tc119.htm
Nov 10 2003: Soon to be baked in Ireland, according to BusinessWeek. [krelnik, Oct 17 2004]

Safety officials recommend requiring `black boxes' for passenger vehicles http://www.sfgate.c...cial1841EDT0330.DTL
Aug 3 2004: NTSB now recommending this be required in all cars in the US [krelnik, Oct 17 2004]

Federal agency wants black boxes in every new car by September 2014 http://arstechnica....-by-september-2014/
[xaviergisz, Dec 30 2012]


       On the privacy issue, perhaps people would be less concerned if the devices were designed so that they are *only* useful for providing crash information.   

       One way to do this might be to design them as cockpit voice recorders are: only record the last few minutes of data (on an "endless loop", and provide an "erase" button that the operator can push at any time.   

       These features would make such devices just about useless for obtaining embrassing or private information about someone, but still entirely useful for their intended purpose (data about serious accidents).   

       Sure, someone could push their "erase" button after a crash that they think might have been their own fault (if they're able to), but there might still be useful data from the other car.
mab, May 13 2000

       Put in an accelerometer that will deactivate the erase button if you hit, say, 5g or so. Even the largest street cars don't hit this under normal circumstances.   

       I am fiercely jealous of my privacy, but something like this doesn't bother me too much. Knowing who caused an accident so they can be properly nailed for it is a good thing. The rest of it, knowing where you went or whatever...well, a good strong electromagnet should take care of Big Brother then.
StarChaser, May 13 2000

       Of course, the problem with bulding-in privacy protection for technologies like this is that while it may be easy to come up with good privacy- preserving designs, the privacy protections often don't make it to the end product, especially if they add to the cost or reduce the utility in some way.   

       Privacy protections might get dropped for any number of reasons. They might add to the cost. There might be powerful groups (e.g., the police, insurance companies, whatever) that argue that privacy protection would destroy some other great "side benefit". Modifications later in the design process might inadvertantly render the protections ineffective. And so on. Unfortunately, end consumers are often ill-equipped to evaluate whether something actually represents a threat to privacy, and often have no alternative but to go along even if they do.   

       People *say* they value their privacy, but all too often behave as if they don't.
mab, May 13 2000

       do you *reall* want to have something recording all that shit about your driving habits?   

       situation: you're doing 190km/h down the motorway (don't say it doesn't happen, i've done it myself). a cop sees you go past and chases you and pulls you over. he didn't get your speed, but knows you were going f**king fast. he asks you how fast you were going, you say "oohh, i think it was about 110 officer". He then connects a special unit up to your car, moments later you've got your licence removed, you're facing dangerous driving charges and he slaps a $5,000 ticket on ya.   

       maybe in theory these would work, but in practice nobody is going to let somebody install such a thing in their car, despite any claims they don't intrude on privacy, i know i wouldn't wanna take my car into some government-controlled workshop and leave it there for a few hours while they tinker with all the electronics.
Malcolm, Jul 12 2000

       [Malcolm] I am willing to have one of these installed in my car as long as people like *you* have one also. There is very little chance that I am going to get $5,000 ticket for wreckless driving, because I do not drive wrecklessly. Perhaps if you had one in your car you would be less inclined to risk *my* life on the highway with your questionable driving skills.
blahginger, Sep 14 2000

       I am pretty sure that long-haul trucking companies use driving data-recorders in their fleet rigs.
bristolz, Feb 23 2001

       Blahginger: I've noticed that wreckless drivers seem, interestingly, to be the _least_ reckless.   

       OK, I'm off to another PA meeting...
beauxeault, Feb 23 2001

       This already exists (is the proper parlance to call it "fully baked"?). Check out this URL:   


       GM claims it's purely for safety and the information will not be used for litigation. But you know that if the information is there, it will be used eventually.
ejs, May 16 2001

       >As far as privacy, the system could be rigged to record only the last hour of a car's operation and then to save all current data if the system detects an accident took place   

       Eh? Isn't that good enough for the super-private?
centauri, May 17 2001

       bristolz: Trucks have tacographs in them, that record speed and time. They're original use was to check that drivers were not driving for too long, and taking adequate breaks, but the information generated has been used to check speed when accidents have happened.
Little_Crow, Jun 25 2001

       <sp> Tachograph. A tacograph would only record what the driver was eating.
angel, Jun 26 2001

       I believe there was a recent case in the US where a group of Parcel Delivery drivers sued their employer for installing a tracking device in the vans.   

       The clever bosses has started using it to tell when they were taking un-authorised breaks, and docking it from their pay.   

       The drivers claimed this was a breach of their civil liberties, and an invasion of their privacy.   

       I am not sure what the outcome was, but it looked in favour of the drivers.
CasaLoco, Jun 26 2001

       I can't imagine how the drivers could win that case if they actually were taking unauthorized breaks. On the other hand, it would be nice if someone were to find for me, should my employer start actively monitoring my Internet use.
centauri, Jun 26 2001

       As [ejs] mentioned, these do in fact exist inside the air bag deployment systems of modern cars. Recently the data from one was used to convict a driver of manslaughter in an accident case. See link.
krelnik, Jun 16 2003

       The US National Transportation Safety Board just recommended that this idea be baked in all cars, see link.
krelnik, Aug 04 2004

       I like this idea very much, i may be young but I have been involved in my fair share of accidents, and I hate seing bodies scattered across the road with those responsible either dead or dying. This would help a lot in finding out what happened. only problem I see is where would you store it?? it would have to be in the centre of the vehicle where it is least likey to be damaged by any likely of possible impacts.. (front, rear, side's etc) But still, I love it :D
christjan08, Mar 14 2012

       //I hate seing bodies scattered across the road with those responsible either dead or dying//   

       You said it. That sort of thing really just takes the spring out of my step for the rest of the day.
ytk, Mar 15 2012

       These are baked now. They even make tattle-tale recorders for teenagers' vehicles that will alert parents via smartphone when excessive speed or g-force is recorded.
Alterother, Mar 15 2012

       I just noticed the dates! I was wondering, "How does the author not know this exists" LOL Yep these are installed by progressive and other insurance companies to help lower rates by proving your a good driver. I love reading some of the older ideas like "what if answering machines...." or "CD's should be scratch proof"
Brian the Painter, Dec 31 2012


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