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Black Box Data Recording

steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
Some states limit how the information saved in your car's various data recorders can be used.

The NHTSA is being lobbied to develop standard for "Event Data Recorders."

Anyone have any personal experience with a black box in your car or think there are privacy concerns with them?

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Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

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Comments

  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Volvo's have had data recorders for years.
    Personally, I don't have any problem with them.
    If you are in an accident, they can provide valuable information.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,863
    "There have been cases where warranty was denied for blown engines because someone mis-shifted, or used forced induction but then removed it before taking the vehicle to the dealership. So, some information stays in the computer for days if not weeks."

    These things are based on throwing an exception code in the software, which is different from storing vehicle settings and driving patterns.

    As some people have already said, the "black boxes" only store a few seconds of data.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
    If you are in an accident, they can provide valuable information

    To you, the cops or the lawyers on the other side? :shades:

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Depends who is at fault doesn't it?
    Obviously, if you are at fault, it won't help you. It will help your victim.
    So, don't cause any accidents :D
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    it's possible parameters on the data bus are in error. for example, what if the velocity sensor was bad and the vehicle was registering 0MPH? does that mean the vehicle is stopped?

    so there would be all sorts of additional analysis and expertise and revealed knowlege about the design of the system and validating the information contained therein that would be needed.
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    You are talking about something that could only really happen in theory.
    If one of the sensors that the black box records does go bad,chances are you would have to have the car towed to the dealer for repair anyway.
    those sensors perform functions that are necessary for the car to operate on a daily basis. All the box would do is record their operation.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    If it is used to explain a crash and determine who was really at fault, then I'm all for it.

    If you are trying to avoid prosecution for being the cause of a crash, you can't hide from black box data. I think that's a good tool for the good guys.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    not the speedo.

    and do these recorders record the angular velocity of each wheel?

    all i'm saying is that proper interpretation would require additional expertise to make sure the data was read and interpreted properly. the group which reads out the digital flight data recorders from planes post crash are a specialized group. you wouldn't want every police department or insurance company responsible for same on automobiles would you? :surprise:
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    and do these recorders record the angular velocity of each wheel?

    If they use the ABS sensors,they do.

    There is NOWHERE near the same amount of data on these recorders as there is on an airplane's.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    ...reminder on the dash.

    I think that it's more than a coincidence that one of the huge issues Toyota had was over the sludging problem and their contention that the maintenance was not done timely. Now everytime the light comes on it's normally reset when the service is completed.

    Black Box recording these events?
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Probably,because when the light is reset, the maintenance clock starts over.
    Euro cars have had maintenance indicators for quite a while.
  • Just what data is recorded on the "black box"?

    I assume that routine engine operation functions are monitored but what else? How long is it stored?

    I remember stories back a few years where GM was taking readings of stored data and using them to deny warranty claims. As I recall, the car recorded every time the speed was over 80 and the dealers were claiming customer abuse.

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    "There is NOWHERE near the same amount of data on these recorders as there is on an airplane's."

    Maybe it's high time there was.

    Event Data Recorders are nothing new and don't store that much but have been very useful in investigations (sometimes criminal) with beneficial or damning evidence.

    I think it's time for Vehicle Data Recorders that record and store many more parameters than Event Recorders - this whole Toyota mess would have been a lot simpler and I think it would have gotten rid of a lot of flimsy arguments if a data recorder revealed gear placement, switching attempts, braking and acceleration activity from the motorist.

    Don't consider me on Toyotas side either - a data recorder would have put them equally under scrutiny, bad or good.

    I wouldn't rule out small unobtrusive durable cameras either. Recordings of the environment around the vehicle and other vehicles would be very helpful in determining what "really" happened. This is already achieved with many police departments now using the dash cameras.

    My wife made the observation that the popular back-up cameras would be EXTREMELY useful if they had something that turned them on when you had a severe tailgater that caused an incident. It's always fun watching somebody squirm when they see what they did to cause a collision.... If they're still alive.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited March 2010
    with EDRs is that they just sort of snuck up on us. I think they are actually part of the air bag deployment system. In order to deploy the airbag correctly across a range of crash scenarios, the engineers decided they needed deceleration info, brake, throttle position, etc (not sure why). Supposedly, this info was to be used by manufacturers to improve their vehicles' safety devices.

    The use of EDR stored information to recreate an accident scenario was not the original intent. That an EDR's stored data could be used for such a purposes came out gradually, over the course of several years. It was never debated in such terms. Now we're stuck with it.

    Am I a fan of EDRs? NO! (For that matter, I'm not fan of airbags either. But, that's a topic for another thread). Just another attempt at Big Brother to poke his nose into your business. And no, I don't believe the song and dance about "if you've done nothing wrong, what do you have to worry about". The powers that be have never been able to keep their hands out of the cookie jar, once they've gotten into the kitchen.
  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    edited March 2010
    "Just another attempt at Big Brother to poke his nose into your business."

    So, they should rip out the flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders in transport category aircraft? Isn't that big brother?

    See how ridiculous that sounds? I already see the argument; but it's MY car, it's my PERSONAL car owned by me - nobody can snoop around! What happens if YOUR car slams into a city bus? Or the city bus slams into you. You and your lawyer are delighted to find out that the bus now has video data recording and vehicle data recording that shows the bus driver was texting while driving - open and shut case. YOU were the one texting while driving and slammed into the bus, how is that different?

    Well, unfortunately you drive your vehicle on a PUBLIC thoroughfare and to me, that means opened up to public scrutiny and record for safety reasons just like a large jet operating on an arrival route into or the light rail around Baltimore MD.

    We all have this extremely incorrect stance that once we shut the door of our car - the massive infrastructure around it is just..... incidental to our needs and our actions or a mechanical failure of our vehicle is not open to scrutiny.

    After some idiot with blatant road rage activity hits your car and then takes off only to be apprehended hours later because an onboard camera caught the whole mess.... Was that big brother? Ask your attorney what he thinks!!!!!
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    That's a rather Orwellian viewpoint you got there.

    So, they should rip out the flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders in transport category aircraft? Isn't that big brother?

    Well, passenger airlines are public transportation, not private (like my car). And I believe that information/evidence gleaned from an airplane's black (really orange) cannot be used in litigation against the airline. It is used to establish root-cause of an incident with the sole purpose of making an improvement so that the same incident will not occur again. It is not meant to be a tool used by a bunch of accident chasing lawyers.

    And, just for the record, I don't care if an airline has a black box in it or not. It doesn't make the flight I might be on any safer. It might make a future flight safer, but not mine.

    YOU were the one texting while driving and slammed into the bus, how is that different?

    I don't use a cell phone at all, much less text. So that analogy doesn't apply in my case. Maybe you should just put EDR's in the cars of cell phone users?

    Well, unfortunately you drive your vehicle on a PUBLIC thoroughfare and to me, that means opened up to public scrutiny and record for safety reasons just like a large jet operating on an arrival route into or the light rail around Baltimore MD.

    Sorry, not the same thing as an airline or light rail.

    After some idiot with blatant road rage activity hits your car and then takes off only to be apprehended hours later because an onboard camera caught the whole mess.... Was that big brother?

    Yep. Get rid of the friggin' cameras - I'll take my chances.

    By your line of reasoning, you would be OK with a Big Brother mirror and camera in your bedroom just to make sure you don't enagage in any unhealthy activities :P
  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    "That's a rather Orwellian viewpoint you got there."

    Yep. I think he's a great writer.

    So.... You're car is private but it requires registration and in some states inspection and emissions. It also has two big signs on it that readily identify you (plates) and decals (usually in a window) saying you are complying with.... Big Brother?

    I think your "private" car is a lot more public than you think..... Taken a look at platewire.com lately?

    Oh and by the way, my bedroom, to my knowledge has never had to interact with other bedrooms on public property.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    edited March 2010
    So.... You're car is private but it requires registration and in some states inspection and emissions. It also has two big signs on it that readily identify you (plates) and decals (usually in a window) saying you are complying with.... Big Brother?

    Nope, don't like that either. I could easily live and drive without plates and registration. Best as I can tell, the only thing they do is keep a bunch of people at the MVA employed.

    Oh and by the way, my bedroom, to my knowledge has never had to interact with other bedrooms on public property.

    No, but in many parts of the country there were (not sure if they are still on the books or not) laws making it an offense to engage in certain acts, even in the privacy of your own bedroom. Why? Because, in some people's minds, those acts were an endangerment to society - the public. How do we know you're not discussing acts of sedition in your bedroom? Sounds to me like just the sort of reason a law abiding citizen like yourself would welcome a camera and mike in their home to verify that such dangerous acts are not taking place :shades: .
  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    I forgot.

    I forgot to mention that yes, I love Orwell....... and most of Orwell's work was.... fiction.

    To this day, no writings of Orwell have come true (except Iran and North Korea possibly) and we are WAY past 1984!

    There is a horrific and complete failure of many individuals (outside this forum also) to realize that in basic observation that the highways and byways are.

    NOT PRIVATE!!!

    Why do you insist your car is private when it's right next to a city bus? Is the city bus private? Is the tanker that just overturned private?

    But... The sheer micro-second your "private" car is hit by the city bus or a truck that ran a stop light you light up like a crybaby with attorneys that have meat-ripping fangs with indignation and outcry. Even better, the city bus had a black box recording the transgressions against YOUR vehicle.

    As for the bedroom thing, tie your Buick to the ceiling fan while you watch flies getting their wings amputated if it turns you on.... As long as it's not criminal I really do not care, I might not understand it, but truly, I simply don't care.

    Just don't hurt other people.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    A day or so ago I read an article that says Toyota refuses to release the specifications of the hardware/software used in their 'black box'.

    There already have been several court cases where Toyota was very unresponsive to requests to access the data in their auto after accidents. Toyota has supposedly said there is only ONE laptop in the entire USA with the software to query their black box. And they quoted one time a price of $5,000+ for a tech to bring this laptop to a car.

    In most other cases they appear to just refuse or not respond to requests to pull the black box data. Several of these request have involved 'unintended acceleration' cases.

    If what was printed in this article is half-way true, then Toyota's troubles are just starting. If this is what Toyota has done in the past, I think that a bunch of heavy-duty law firms are going to look for accident victims and bring enormous lawsuits aganist them.

    Toyota has also supposed to have said these black boxes are only 'prototype' items and their data can only be used by themselves.
    They have had them in most of their autos since about 2001, 9 years ago, hardly what appears to be 'prototype' hardware.

    Toyota's rear is grass and it's going to be chewed up big time by the lawyers because of their previous positions on this black box issue.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Toyota's rear is grass and it's going to be chewed up big time by the lawyers because of their previous positions on this black box issue.

    And that's the problem. The data in the EDR will be used more to enrich some ambulance chasing lawyers than it will to make safer vehicles. This is not the case with the flight data recorders that are used on airlines.

    I applaud Toyota for not making its EDR data more readily available. I wish the other auto makers had taken the same approach.

    And besides, if the government really, REALLY wanted that data, they could always turn a Toyota EDR over to a certain 3 letter acronym federal agency in the Ft. Meade area and have the box cracked in short time.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Some states have passed laws regarding EDR data. I believe the gist of the law is the data in the EDR belongs to whomever owns the vehicle. CA was first with this:

    California Black Box Law
    In September, California became the first state to adopt a law that addressed the issue of event data recorders (or black boxes) in automobiles. When a crash occurs, these black boxes record certain factors seconds before the accident. The actual information recorded varies widely depending on the type of recorder. It could be something as simple as whether the air bag deployed, or as complicated as what speed your vehicle was traveling at, as well as if you were braking at the time of the accident.

    One thing this law (which goes into effect July 1, 2004) has accomplished is that it brought attention to this issue. Attention that has been sorely lacking. The majority of drivers don't even know these devices exist, let alone the potential that their car's information could be used against them.

    Most car owner's manuals only have a sentence or two that tells you that your vehicle has a black box. And, even then, it is usually in the section that describes your air bag and implies that the recorder only records that your air bag deployed. It doesn't go into detail on how many seconds before a crash are recorded or what other information may be included. This new California law will now require carmakers to provide more information concerning these devices.

    While this new legislation does require the disclosure of these devices, the privacy protections outlined in this law are a joke.

    This law states that no one can access the data without the owner's permission or a court order. If you look closely at this, you can see this really doesn't restrict anything. If you have been in an accident, it would be very easy for the court to order this information to be collected. No protection there.

    A driver could also be pressured into giving permission for the information to be taken. (One scenario could be your insurance company threatening you with higher premiums if you don't share your car's information.) No protection there either.

    While this brings much needed attention to the issue of black boxes, this isn't even close to being the "privacy act" that the politicians are touting it to be.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
    edited March 2010
    This is not the case with the flight data recorders that are used on airlines.

    Why wouldn't a lawyer be able to access the flight data recorder? At worse it would take a court order. A Thousand Pictures (PCM Online)

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    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I believe it's part of federal regulations as to what the flight data recorder contents can be used for. I don't think a lawyer could subpoena the contents of a FDR. The use of such data is restricted so that problems can be thoroughly aired, investigated, and root causes determined, with the goal being to improve airline safety by correcting a problem - not enriching some ambulance chasing lawyer. At the end of an investigation (which may take years), usually led by the FAA or some other federal agency, the results I believe are part of the public record, including the contents of the FDR.

    That's just the opposite of the way things works in other industries. Companies are afraid of airing their dirty laundry - of admitting that, in hindsight, they maybe should have done something different, because of the very real possibility that such disclosures could be used against them in a lawsuit.

    Because of that, there is an incentive to hide and deny problems, and try to fix them in a manner that doesn't draw any attention. Also, there is no reason to share their findings or experiences with anyone else in the industry because of competitive pressures.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
    Here's a quote from my link:

    "During the trial, the jury listened to the last minute of the cockpit voice recorder as they watched a computer-animated reconstruction based on the flight data recorder."

    I guess part of the question comes down to who you trust more to ferret out why a crash occurred - the NHTSA, FAA or other government agency or the ferret* and his experts. :)

    (*aka trial lawyers).

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    Here is the EDR information scanned from my 07 Sequoia owners manual. Looks like a lot of possible data. Though one statement that does not give the owner much hope. It is for use by Toyota as a defense in a lawsuit. If they are the only ones that can read the data. The consumer is screwed.

    image
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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,166
    My guess is Toyota knows a lot more than they are saying from the information contained in the EDRs on vehicles that have complaints filed against them.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Yes, I skimmed the original article you posted. I think in the case mentioned there, the issue was whether or not a hydraulic actuator (?) was not just at fault, but defective - the lawyers looking for the deep pockets of the actuator's manufacturer. I was surprised that the FDR contents was able to be used by the plaintiffs.

    I went back through some my reference material. In the case of TWA Flight 800 that went down off the New England coast in 1996, some of the airline passengers tried to sue Boeing and the manufacturer of a fuel pump that was suspected, but never proven, to have been the cause of the center fuel tank explosion. I don't know if they were successful or not. Some of the results of the NTSB investigation was also used in those litigations.

    With the Swiss Air flight 111 that went down off the coast of Nova Scotia, one of the reasons given for the loss of the aircraft was the flammability of some Dupont cabin material. Again some survivors of the passengers chose not to accept the airline's settlement offer and instead decided to sue Boeing and Dupont to the tune of $11 billion, I believe. That case was thrown out.

    So I may be off base when I said FDR contents and NTSB results cannot be used in a lawsuit. Some of the information in the court record for those two incidents was only obtained by filing a FIA request, and even then some of the results were inconclusive, particularly as it related to interpreting the analog recording on parts of the FDR and CDR tapes.

    In any case, I still think it's very scary that we willingly accept carrying around things that could be used against us like that. That goes for GPS enabled cell phones as well as EDRs. Heck, I don't even want an electronic toll device (Easy Pass) because it's too easy for someone to see where I've been. Maybe I'm just too paranoid.

    Guess I'll keep the '87 BMW running for a few years longer. No EDR there.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,935
    edited March 2010
    Well, it works both ways. If you T-Bone me and claim you had braked and the wreck wasn't your fault, I can use the black box info to cast doubt on your claim.

    Requiring a court order gives you a chance to try to fight my having access to the data recorder.

    Since you're keeping the old Bimmer, I'll have to rely on the black helicopters and drones overhead to help me out when you plow into me. :D

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • ponderpointponderpoint Posts: 277
    "It works both ways"

    We had an elected official killed by a drunk driver here in Pennsylvania.

    The drunk driver is STILL claiming the state senator wandered into his lane even as the trial ended and it was ridiculously obvious that the drunk was at fault from data collected at the scene and the vehicles, don't even mention his blood alcohol level.

    Perhaps the drunk is now believing he has been the victim of an "Orwellian" big brother nightmare more than his failure to realize he's just a scum bag that dismissed his responsibilities to other citizens on a PUBLIC road?

    I doubt the greater PUBLIC shares his "big brother" viewpoint - especially the senators wife who was seriously injured also.

    I'm constantly amazed by how Joe Road Rager demands insane amounts of scrutiny for his short airline flight to Boston, CVR's, FDR.s, TSA, maintenance records, quips to the flight attendant "the pilots up there all nice and rested" demanding absolute safety and responsibility.

    He then promptly climbs into his "private" vehicle at the airport lot after having two liquor shorts, beers in the terminal and expects NOT to be scrutinized on a PUBLIC road after the flight by data recorders and cameras on the dashboard of the police that just pulled him over for menacing a Toyota (pardon the pun) that wouldn't get out of his way after they braked to avoid a deer and he..... didn't.
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