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Black Box Data Recording



  • 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: 28,690
    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.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    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)
  • 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.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    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).
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,690
    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.

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,690
    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.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    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
  • 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.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    edited November 2011
    Seems like Progressive is more heavily advertising their Snapshot gizmo that tracks your car usage, and the results will lower your premium. Unless you drive like an idiot or late at night anyway.

    You get a better discount if you practice gentle braking, drive fewer miles than the average driver in your state, and minimize driving during peak hours or between midnight and 4 a.m.

    The device tracks time of day and vehicle speed, which helps determine how many miles you drive and how often you make sudden stops (G force).

    The Snapshot device doesn't contain GPS technology or track vehicle location. It also doesn't track whether you're exceeding the speed limit.

    The FAQ says it can't tell if you're exceeding the speed limit, but it tracks speed and time info, so my guess is that if you are doing 80 anywhere but Kansas and parts of Texas, you'll get dinged as a speeder.

    You can also log in and track your own driving by day of the week and time of day and get an overview of your driving habits.

    Looks like the discount is at least 25% and except for the occasional speeding, I'd qualify. But Progressive never has given me a competitive quote, so even 25% off probably is more than I'm paying now.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,941
    I'd never sign up for that. Too much of an open door for shenanigans - and with the behind the scenes link between ensurers and revenue enforcers, nothing good can come of it.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    edited November 2011
    On the other hand, if you were in an accident and fault was in question, getting access to the data could show that you weren't the cause.

    Might even be able to convince a judge that a revenue enforcer wasn't being completely candid on the speeding ticket. :blush:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,941
    True, I guess one would need to weigh the positives vs negatives. I don't know if I trust some career revenue collectors and insurance suits to be able to judge what kind of G force is evil and what is permissible, however.

    I bet should it come to all that, that the insurance provided recorders somehow would become inadmissible as defense, just able to be used for prosecution :shades:
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    ...these "black box" recording devices come with this label:

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    I think I've seen that on the Google search page. Facebook too. :P
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394

    Not sure about the warning label, but IIRC, when I took possession of my 2005 Dakota, one of the papers that came with the truck was a notice of the EDR, what it does, and how law enforcement and insurance entities could get their hands on it and the data it contains.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,611
    I'd never sign up for that. Too much of an open door for shenanigans - and with the behind the scenes link between ensurers and revenue enforcers, nothing good can come of it.

    Not defending it but the Snapshot device only stays in your car for 30 days. Technically if you could be a really good boy for 30 days, you could get a good discount.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,041
    edited May 2012
    "Congress now seems set on passing legislation that would make an Electronic Data Recorder (EDR) – the technical name for an automotive black box – required equipment on all new cars. And lawmakers also want to settle who owns the data on the devices, although that issue won’t be nearly as cut-and-dried."

    As Congress Mulls Mandate on Car Black Boxes, Data Ownership Remains Unclear (Wired)

    "As of 2011, GM vehicles as old as 1994 have accessible data, Ford vehicles as old as 2001 have accessible data, Chrysler vehicles as old as 2005 have accessible data, Toyota and Lexis vehicles as old as 2006 have accessible data, as well as some Isuzu, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Scion, Sterling, and Suzuki vehicles."

    Busted! Your car's black box is spying, may be used against you in court (Computerworld)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,941
    I assume they mean Sterling trucks...

    Time to snip some wires.
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