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Black Boxes to Track Driving Habits?

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the pull-up-pull-up dept.

Technology 867

Nofsck Ingcloo writes "Nando Times is reporting on a new model of black boxes to track teens' driving habits. 'This is like having a parent sitting next to him second by second.... The kids don't like it, but the parents love it.... Originally developed... for ambulances and fire trucks to reduce crashes, the black box is a stripped-down version of that model.' So, how long before the insurance companies persuade the states to mandate these devices in every car? Or raise our rates hugely and then give a little of it back if we put in the box?"

Another submitter sent in a related submission about the collision data recorders in many late-model cars - which serve a similar purpose as the black boxes described above, but generally only record the last five seconds before an accident.

geemon writes "With the recent stories of rental car companies using GPS to track how and where their patrons are using their vehicles, this information about autos from 1996 and newer having an airplane-like accident "black box" capability was a complete surprise. Tucked under the drivers seat of most GM vehicles, the "black box" can store a variety of info such as vehicle and engine speed, braking, and seat belt usage. Info from an accident reconstruction service that uses this data can be found here. Called "event data recorders", these devices were, "...Originally designed to improve air bag performance based on the severity of the collision, the event data recorder can tell traffic accident investigators about the car's speed; engine RPMs; how far the accelerator pedal was pressed; if the brakes were applied; whether the drivers seatbelt was buckled and what warning lights were on - all from five seconds before impact..." It seems that GM and perhaps Ford have been using this for some time. Here is one company that makes the Windows based retrieval hardware/software combo for $2500. Imagine the uses of this data that law enforcement, your insurance company, and lawyers may have after your next little mishap."

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Woah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948076)

For a moment there, I was getting a bit worried about my wardriving habits.

Re:Woah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948160)

i want you inside me. thats right. give it to me. talk dirty. oh yeah. i am your little slut. yes.

First FUCKING post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948077)

FUCKING 20 seconds

Re:First FUCKING post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948089)

Do you wardrive too?

rediculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948081)

just another reason that the govenment shouldnt own the roadways... sure repairs and everything are paid for, but stupid shit like this gets enforced. slowly but surely, all of our freedom is getting eaten away.

Re:rediculous (2, Flamebait)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948154)

Pardon my bluntness, but are you a retard? This black box is sold by a private enterprise. Parents love it. Nowhere does government come into this equation.

What a pitiful little groundless stab at government, whom, might I add, DONT want this in every car. It's the private enterprise that would like it in every car. Total market saturation == most successful business.

Re:rediculous (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948250)

Agreed. I also fail to see why this would 'eat away at our freedoms'. You're not free on the road to begin with. You're not free to speed. You're not free to drink and drive. You're not free to crash. At best, this thing could be used to settle disputes about who did what. Who knows, maybe it could turn into an 'enforcement' device.

Let's play with your little theory here: Let's suppose that the gov't mandates these devices hooked up to cars with data sent to Insurance Agencies. At best, it could be used to determine fault in an accident. Oh gee, that'd suck! Teens would better drivers. Oh the horror! And your insurance rates would go down plus your safety would go up.

I wouldn't compare this to wiretapping. You can't directly kill somebody with a phone call. You can directly kill somebody with a car. The government would not be out of line by mandating steps to make sure cars are safer. Stoplights and speed limits are not a suggestion. Nobody's saying "the government is out of line by establishing speed limits!"

Freedom is not worthwhile if you're afraid of living. Those of us that travel on congested highways for an hour a day to get to work and back would agree. We'd all like to see drivers not pull stupid stunts to get to their destination 30 seconds sooner.

Re:ridiculous (0)

davidj0228 (543196) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948204)

more "shit like this" would probably get enforced if roads were privately owned. the owner could mandate what kind of cars could drive on the road, who could drive on the road, and how one could drive on the road. and these rules would probably be more strict than those in place on our government owned roadways since the government must follow the rules of the constitution(or supposedly they do :) but private citizens aren't forced to uphold the constitution. just imagine having to pay a toll to go to 7-11, hoping that RoadCorp wont revoke your driving privileges for having a broken tail light. bad shit. just because something is privately owned doesnt mean that it will be protecting "freedom." and competition that would promote this "freedom" would be limited since there is limited land to build roads on(at least within a city where most of traffic is) therefore large road monopolies would form(would Microroad be a good name for one of these companies?). -DavidJohnson

fist prost? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948082)

fp?? or sp??

Re:fist prost? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948098)

hmmm - fourth post. oh well, i'll just have to keep trying.

It is there already! (4, Funny)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948083)

It may not be at that detail, but insurance companies are taking the car's onboard computer when they total the vehicle.

If you are in an accident and the other party's insurance company takes the vehicle, they will check the black box to try to shift the liability from their client onto you.

Re:It is there already! (2)

b_pretender (105284) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948109)

I believe that "Carmageddon 3 -- Carpocalypse Now" had event recorders in each of the automobiles. Otherwise the slow-motion replay wouldn't have been as accurate as it was.

BTW, does anybody know if this game runs under Wine? I would love to play it again, except that I toasted my Windows partition.

You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948139)

If you didn't spend all day posting to Slashdot, your hands would probably feel a LOT less sore.

D'ya think?

Re:It is there already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948224)

Or call a tow truck company that fixes these issues -
the electonics can be zapped with high voltage, or taken to a modification shop to be modified. Just remember to replace the light bulbs (filament stretch analysis). Of course interstate truckies know these and more tricks. Some lawyers advise hit and run IS advisable, depending on the circumstances. Cheap boxes = easy tampering.

or if used properly (1)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948226)

"they will check the black box to try to shift the liability from their client onto you"

or, they will finally prove that its people over the ages of 65 that cause the accidents not those under 21! I swear, the elderly should retire their licenses when they retire from work, they drive dangerously slow in areas that are impossibly to overtake and frustrate all following drivers, and the frustration they create cause accidents!

Remote Access? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948084)

Will they be able to be accessed remotely, because I really wouldn't want that. It's not difficult to disable the little bell that goes off when my key is in the ignition and the door is open, and likewise, the bell that goes off every 30 seconds when I'm not buckled...is this my box to tamper with, or will it be the car company's box that I'm not allowed to mess with?

Re:Remote Access? (1)

windex (92715) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948108)

Since generally you own your car, it shouldn't be an issue. When auto makers start only leasing vehicles and never selling them, be wary. :)

Dude... (5, Funny)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948087)

...you're getting a bell!

not quite (5, Funny)

faeryman (191366) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948088)

Larry Selditz will begin selling a teenager's worst nightmare in November - a small black box placed in a car that allows parents to track exactly how their child is driving on the highways.

No. A teenager's worst nightmare would be a little black box that reports their "parking" *winkwink* habits, not driving.

Mod Parent Up! (0)

SunCrushr (153472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948155)

Parent post deserves a 5 for funny.

Re:not quite (4, Funny)

unicron (20286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948201)

Of course, your father always got to see:


to track driving habbits... (-1)

Butt Spelunker (580918) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948091)

Sheesh. Driving habbits. Yeah, right. I'll just get caught ass-cramming a Taco-Bell spork full of rice and beans if they install one in my car.

blah blah blah! (1)

windex (92715) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948092)

I am getting tired of hearing that company/organization XYZ has more control over something I own than I do.

I'm going to spend the next week ripping shit out of my car that dosen't need to be there. EFI? F*ck that, we're going back to a carburator since I can't trust the god damn ECU not to call the NSA if I drive too close to the Pentagon. :P

Re:blah blah blah! (1)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948128)

Viva lo tech!

I drive a late 60's karmann ghia. No computers, no power anything, and you know what? The fucker runs. It gets me from point a to point b and sometimes point c on the weekends. Geek that I am, I just love how low tech that ride is.

Re:blah blah blah! (2)

The Wing Lover (106357) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948265)

I am getting tired of hearing that company/organization XYZ has more control over something I own than I do.

Seems to me that company XYZ will be having control over something your parents own.

I have seen some real jackass teen drivers. It always struck me that if their parents could see how they were driving the car that they borrowed, that they would be allowed to borrow it for another year (or even better, they wouldn't drive like that in the first place).

Parents have every right to monitor how their children are driving their cars.

Paranoia (4, Insightful)

Wrexen (151642) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948094)

So, how long before the insurance companies persuade the states to mandate these devices in every car? Or raise our rates hugely and then give a little of it back if we put in the box?

Can we stop with the black-helicopters-are-watching-me-through-the-tele phone tin-foil hat paranoia for just a day or two? This kind of sensationalizing gets really old when every single piece of technology is just another tool for The Man to spy on us, regardless of legitimate uses (sound familiar?) it might have.

Re:Paranoia (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948176)

Reminds me of a recent penny arcade strip:

Penny-Arcade [penny-arcade.com]

Re:Paranoia (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948260)

Ouch. To be mocked by a man whose career is based on masturbation jokes and the gossip of video game fanboys...

Re:Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948180)

People like you see sensationalism in any kind of protest they disagree with. Since this devices declared purpose is to track teenagers' driving habits, it has very much to do with privacy and the forces that threaten it. You may not care about the privacy of others, but don't ask those people to give up their privacy for your intellectual comfort.

Re:Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948198)

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I guess you think Palladium is really a Good Thing also?

Re:Paranoia (2)

realdpk (116490) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948203)

Fact: Insurance companies are test-marketing the idea of providing insurance based on actual tracked usage.

Fact: This particular "black box" device is being marketed to regular Joe's to let them track other people's usage.

Fact: Insurance companies are in it for the money - specifically, in it to pay out as little as possible to improve their shareholder's investments.

The paranoia is justified, IMO.

Re:Paranoia (2)

Silverhammer (13644) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948207)

Can we stop with the black-helicopters-are-watching-me-through-the-tele phone tin-foil hat paranoia for just a day or two?

It is not paranoia, because a) car rental agencies already use black boxes to track renters and b) insurance companies already "mandate" certain equipment through bump-and-discount pricing. Putting the two together is simply the logical conclusion.

Re:Paranoia (1, Flamebait)

natefaerber (143261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948231)

Can we stop with the black-helicopters-are-watching-me-through-the-tele phone tin-foil hat paranoia for just a day or two? This kind of sensationalizing gets really old when every single piece of technology is just another tool for The Man to spy on us, regardless of legitimate uses (sound familiar?) it might have.

I was trying to rebut this when I started to realize Wrexen may have a point. Slashdotters want the government to leave the technology (eg. P2P, DeCSS, etc.) alone and punish the abusers. Here Slashdotters want to suppress the technology to avoid the abusers. Sounds just like the MPAA and RIAA's argument.

And to the argument that "Insurance companies have too many politicians in their pocket and we have no say...", then the system is broken. Do something to fix that first.

fuck off (0, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948247)

...every single piece of technology is just another tool for The Man to spy on us, regardless of legitimate uses (sound familiar?) it might have.

What else would you call a device that collects personal information about you that only a vendor or law enforcement can read? A camera I mount in my car that does the same thing so I can share the information with who I please is a much different proposition from that kind of trash. It would be nice if I had control over the device, but I don't. It's like the fifth ammendment inverted.

Won't be long (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948096)

I imagine it won't be long till it's a standard feature on new cars.

I doubt it'll be retroactive to older cars, even seatbelt laws don't effect cars that didn't have them, nor did center tail-lights.

I imgine it'll be 2006 models that ship with this technology.

Big Brother gets a step closer (1)

PeekabooCaribou (544905) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948100)

This kind of thing is going to become the norm before too long. People become too complacent, too accepting of what the government and corporations feed us. Nothing short of riots and fires will keep us from sinking into a pit where the masses can't fart without being fined and the elite keep themselves warm at night with the flames of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Disillusioned? What's that?

Not going to AC this time. Kill my karma, if you really think I'm wrong.

Re:Big Brother gets a step closer (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948134)

Now I don't think this technology is a good idea, but comeon.

This has NOTHING to do with the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, nor does it have anything to do with the Articles of Confederation or Decleration of Independance.

You might be disillustioned, but try to keep this in context.

It's about technology working for the insurance companies and the police, not about civil rights.

Re:Big Brother gets a step closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948240)

I'm sorry, but where does it state in the Constitution (which by the way the Bill of Rights is a part of but I digress) does it state that private industry shall not do _______________ (insert name of ANYTHING)? In so long as Congress or the government (see the little 'g'? government is not a proper name) doesn't do, pass, require, increase, abscond with, enforce, etc. something then the Constitution doesn't have anything to say about it.
If an insurance company were to require this black box as a means of determining liability in an accident, they can go right ahead and do it. The Constitution doesn't and shoudn't be involved.
No where in any such situation are your Constitutional rights being impinged.

I had this idea once (1)

snowlick (536497) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948101)

I thought it would be cool to see how fast I go, how efficient my driving habits are, etc. Then I thought, holy shit - people would quickly bastardize any legitimate non-invasive purpose the thing would have. So I moved on to my next invention: the Grabber! It can fetch cups from high cupboards with ease. Not only that, but it won't hang around your neck like a leash. It can't be used to enforce morals/territorial travel limits at all!

The progression is clear for any tracking tech (5, Insightful)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948104)

First, either kids or criminals. Then whichever of the first two wasn't gotten. Then, those who'll accept extra benefits for it (generally implemented by removing said pre-existing benefits and then only giving what you had before back if you submit.)

Finally, it's mandatory.

This is the time to oppose this stuff and set limits if there will ever be any at all.

Wardriving (3, Funny)

Myuu (529245) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948105)

My Parents:"Collin...Why is it that you seem to slow down when driving by large buildings and stop for short periods of time in the parking lots of large corporations"

Well.. (4, Troll)

Axe (11122) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948111)

They already manadated GPS use in our cell-phones.
[listening to silence]... Do I hear any outcries? No.

Americans will swallow this just like pervasive credit history control, mandatory live long ID numbers (hello, Soviet Union), "Under GOD!" daily pledges (fuck those atheists), Id check, face recognition, mandatory 10-day address registration for all non-citizens.. and list goes on and on..

It is their vehicle... (5, Insightful)

teetam (584150) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948112)

They can put whatever they want in it, as long as it doesn't hinder my driving. When I sign a contract, I am bound by its rules. The rental company can add any device to the car to track and enforce these rules. As long as they make sure the penalties are fair, I don't see anything wrong with the concept. In fact, black boxes might help determine the cause of serious accidents.

People who disagree can use public transportation. Hopefully, mass transit will get a much needed boost because of people who are unwilling to be tracked.

Re:It is their vehicle... (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948189)

Public transit is only available in cities. For small towns and rural areas, a vehicle is a necessity. (Unless you like lugging ten bags of groceries six miles in the hot sun and hoping to get home before the ice cream melts.)

Besides, you may already have one of these things in your car, whether you agreed to it, or not.

The US is built on car scale (2)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948229)

You cannot live a full life in the US when you're carless outside of very specific urban areas.

This is most evident in places such as Atlanta, GA- the entire Gwinnett County area is one giant sprawl with no interconnection, so it's likely that anything you want to do is 5-10 miles away from you at any given point, with no public transit between here and there.

Not that new (3, Interesting)

wraithgar (317805) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948114)

I swear this isn't a brand-spanking-new thing.
I remember seeing a "consumer report" on 20/20 (or a similar newsprogram) about this device being put in new cars without the knowledge of the buyers. It was also illegal to remove it.
Anyone have any better memory than I and can provide more detail?

Re:Not that new (2)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948248)

I saw that. IIRC, A laywer got on in his brand-new luxury car. He was in an accident (not his fault, I believe) That's when he finds out that they he had one of these, he calls the maker, who claims they were using it to gather information to improve the car. He sues them, claiming he had not given them permission, and therefore they were violating his rights.

What's the problem? (4, Interesting)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948116)

With the "Last 5 second" black box I don't see much of a threat to privacy. It isn't like they're tracking where you're going or keeping tabs of any driving habits, and its certainly not reporting anything back to anyone without actual physical contact. Since you own the car (and thus the black box) I would assume that if anyone did want to get ahold of it against your will they would have to get a court order.

Frankly I'd like to have one of these babies in my car. It would remove a lot of uncertainty around what caused an accident: ("As you can see Judge, I was indeed stopped and my brake lights were working when the idiot rear ended me")

Re:What's the problem? (1)

ScottForbes (528679) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948153)

With the "Last 5 second" black box I don't see much of a threat to privacy.

How about a threat to your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination? Taken to its logical conclusion, this box would allow your car to testify against you in court.

Re:What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948157)

They can already tell if your brake lights were on when you were hit. Their filaments will be distended if they were at operating temperature at the time of impact.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948230)

23:13:05 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:10 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:15 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:20 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:25 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:30 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
23:13:35 Please report the last 5 seconds - Store
Where does the tough part come in?

Hooray! (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948117)

yes, one more reason to keep fixing my old car instead of buying a new car and paying 3X the insurance for it as well as 4X as much for the payments (300$ a month instead of say 75$ to fix it a month).

Even more traffic delays from accidents (1)

traused (200984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948118)

Great, now there will be even longer traffic delays from accidents as the police and rescue workers try to recover the black box from the wreckage before clearing it off the road.

Paranoia is warranted, but Alaska has the solution (2)

RumGunner (457733) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948119)

But I suspect that most people, like the people who live in Alaska, will just stop paying insurance rates.

Seriously. People in Alaska get into accidents, and then they don't fix their car. Every other car on the road has a big dent in it.

Re:Paranoia is warranted, but Alaska has the solut (1)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948163)

It's like that all over. What? $500.00 deductable? Hmm......

Another solution (2)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948208)

Only drive cars worth less than your projected deductable for collision. Bust up the car? Pfft. Get another one. It's really only worth insuring yourself.

"Juneau Bodies" (1)

suky (59722) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948243)

I thought cars in Alaska rusted away into nothingness long before anyone could get into a wreck with them...

Various Takes (0)

LaughingOrc (545205) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948120)

I myself am a pretty strong advocate of privacy, but I do think that these boxen would prove beneficial if used properly. I would assume the Slashdot community to be slightly more intelligent than the rest of the world as a whole. And making another vague assumption, stupid people are more prone to wreck their cars. So, if anyone is to benefit from the tracking of cars, it would be us, those that are slightly less likely to be the cause of accidents. Take two, one that is sure to come up sooner or later - how long before someone figures out a way to hack their box and input it with signals indicating they never speed, accelerate or decelerate too quickly, or anything else for that matter? The technology itself seems likely to be hacked. Take three, would there be any LEGITIMATE way to make POSITIVE use from data obtained? Not always simply to scold bad drivers or find who is at fault in an accident, but to provide advice to drivers as to how they may improve their driving? Or perhaps seeing how your style of driving correlates to longterm vehicle damage or fuel consumption? All are just thoughts, and hopefully discussion openers.

How to remove it? (5, Funny)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948123)

After it's installed how hard is it to take out and leave somewhere?

Johnny pulls in the drive way after coming from a techno drug laden rave fest...

"Johnny, as your parents we're starting to become concerned about you..."

"W..What do you mean?"

"Well according to our black box, you've been spending 7 hours a night at the movies."

"Oh, uh.. right. Ya, uh.. I admit it, I'm a movie junkie."

Can't be a terribly complicated piece of gear... (2)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948166)

...if it costs 300 bucks and can be installed "in minutes" by anyone.

I imagine it would be simple enough just to disable it when you feel like it, and make everyone wonder.

Re:Can't be a terribly complicated piece of gear.. (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948253)

The data recorder is already in your car. It is wired into the brakes, the engine, etc. This device merely plugs into the data recorder and produces reports.

Re:How to remove it? (3, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948216)

Remove it?

Step 1: Unscrew cover to expose circuit board.
Step 2: Pop hood.
Step 3: Retrieve jumper cables from trunk (you are in the Midwest, right?)
Step 4: Connect jumper cables to battery.
Step 5: Apply cables to circuit board.
Step 6: Return items to original position.
Step 7: Feign ignorance.

Easy 'nuff.

Paranoid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948132)

After being nearly killed by a teenager with NO driving experience, I full support this. If you are against this, you must be paranoid beyond belief! This can only lead to safer driving.

hmm.... (4, Insightful)

neksys (87486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948136)

I can understand why black boxes are in airplanes - its a huge liability issue. The more info gathered on crashes that do happen may reduce the chances of paying customers dying in the future. It makes good sense from a PR point of view. However, I would contend that black boxes in cars would do little to alleviate motor vehicle related deaths. We know *why* people crash: Many drivers are goddamned morons. We know that many teens are goddamned morons on the road as well - we don't need a black box to tell us that. Rather than putting these black boxes in cars to spy on our teens, we need to deal with the cause, not the symptoms: bad teen driving comes from a combination of outside pressure, overconfidence and under-training. For heavens sake - invest the money in teen driving training instead of these boxes! And parents, do us ALL a favour: Stop buying your children these expensive rockets on wheels!! Make them get a job to buy their OWN vehicle - it'll make them think twice before doing anything stupid that might wreck it.

Airplanes and restrictions on data use (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948220)

The aviation industry could teach us a thing or two about how to use this kind of data.

The system there is aimed at exactly what neksys said, reducing the chance of people dying in the future. The regulatory structure is aimed at encouraging people to cooperate with accident investigators by protecting them against getting sued or prosecuted for telling the truth to the NTSB.

To be comparable, the motor vehicle laws would have to make black boxes inadmissible in prosecutions and maybe even off-limits in lawsuits.

Anyone else notice the workaround, by the way? If I read correctly the data are in a circular buffer which is replaced every 250 engine starts. If the car's safe to start after a crash, an unscrupulous owner could clear the accident recording simply by turning the key on and off repeatedly.

Re:hmm.... (1)

io333 (574963) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948232)

I agree with you on one point about the bad drivers: under-training. However, IMHO, the root cause of all bad driving is that here, it is extremely difficult to lose one's license permanently.

Contrast the United States with Deutchland, where driver training makes ours look like kindergarten, and where the bonehead moves that each and every one of us here in the U.S. have made at one time or another would have resulted in *all* of us drivers having had our licenses revoked for life.

Yes, many people here, especially the elderly, would complain that the German system was unfair because it would immediately take them off the road, and lots of folks that wouldn't be allowed to drive EVER are going to be allowed to drive from now until they kill someone including themselves, (and probably about 3/4 of our VEHICLES would be taken off the road too for mechanical problems), but in return for that loss of freedom they get to drive [att.net]

Re:hmm.... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948249)

did you read the article?
The boxes emit a loud noise when the driver does somnthing wrong. And it gets loder if they turn the radio up. so if your speeding it annoys the hell out of you so you slow down.
Also, it would be nice to use it to help my kids become better drivers. Yes it can help people become better drivers by letting them evaluate there habits.

Its NOT spying if they know its there. BTW, teens need to be spied on.

Wow, what a horrible idea... (1)

Schleppy (13125) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948140)

Being a driving enthusiast, and a teenager (19), I think this is a simply horrible idea. Granted, I don't go exactly the speed limit (though I don't know a single person who does), and I enjoy a little spirited driving now and then, but I am very aware of how I am driving, and I am always cautious.

All this device could possibly do is annoy the crap out a driver, and in the rare instance that you do need to perform a sharp maneuver (some ass darting into your lane), it could prove to be even more dangerous by emitting an annyoing tone that would take your concentration from getting out of danger...

Invasion of privacy, that's all it is...

Re:Wow, what a horrible idea... (1)

Schleppy (13125) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948164)

And on top of what I said, I also agree with some of the comments below, mostly the driver education comments...

I plan on taking more driving courses as soon as I get the money together, and I pride myself on constantly trying to improve how I drive. The more you educate someone on how to do something, the better they become at it (unless they are truly stupid)...

Re:Wow, what a horrible idea... (2)

Mullen (14656) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948170)

Being 19, you should worry more about getting out from Mommy and Daddy's house and driving their car than what they put in their car that you use. If it is your property, then rip the thing out.

Re:Wow, what a horrible idea... (2)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948186)

No teenager (or new driver in general) is as good a driver as they think they are.

That said, having a little electronic mommy watching you is a terrible idea -- you never get any sense of responsibility about what you're doing when you're not the one in charge.

Personally, were I 16 again, I'd get laid more^H^H^H^H... I mean, were I 16 again, this thing would be in for a short circuit -- a little extra current applied to the board is just what the doctor ordered.

"I dunno, mom. Maybe the whole line of these things are defective?"

Hello by poopbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948143)


A fairy gives lectures on morality to the feline anomaly. Furthermore, another photon near an abstraction takes a coffee break, and a mortician buries a blithe spirit. The wedding dress secretly admires a college-educated ball bearing. If the freight train figures out a fire hydrant near a pit viper, then some mating ritual beyond another cowboy reads a magazine. Any squid can find lice on a freight train, but it takes a real recliner to ostensibly plan an escape from another pit viper defined by a prime minister a cough syrup toward a graduated cylinder.

Another mating ritual

For example, a blood clot about a turn signal indicates that a financial bartender borrows money from a warranty. When a demon is imaginative, a paper napkin secretly admires an often snooty graduated cylinder. If the grain of sand learns a hard lesson from the short order cook behind some graduated cylinder, then another blithe spirit flies into a rage. Any pig pen can lazily require assistance from a burly plaintiff, but it takes a real fighter pilot to caricature the steam engine over a satellite. Another eagerly temporal minivan slyly buries the obsequious squid, or a briar patch usually gives lectures on morality to a cyprus mulch.

A gratifying fairy

Sometimes another cashier reads a magazine, but the fraction for the cyprus mulch always buries a power drill toward the demon! The light bulb befriends a satellite of an apartment building. A lazily Alaskan roller coaster sanitizes another mitochondrial traffic light, or some burglar eats a hesitantly smelly plaintiff. For example, a seldom righteous traffic light indicates that an ocean knows some chestnut inside the tabloid. If the earring somewhat finds subtle faults with a pine cone, then the wheelbarrow hibernates.

The cocker spaniel about the salad dressing

For example, the umbrella toward an abstraction indicates that the dolphin near a ball bearing caricatures a girl scout near some diskette. A cocker spaniel for the judge reads a magazine, and a pine cone finds subtle faults with a rattlesnake. Furthermore, the hairy movie theater returns home, and a grizzly bear near a paycheck is a big fan of a childlike burglar. For example, a canyon living with a graduated cylinder indicates that the industrial complex buries a jersey cow.


A squid around a jersey cow meditates, and another nation sweeps the floor; however, a scooby snack knowingly finds subtle faults with an apartment building living with another chain saw. When a hockey player around a paycheck is smelly, a minivan has a change of heart about an oil filter about an asteroid. The bartender around a polygon is barely soggy. Indeed, another rattlesnake befriends a warranty. Indeed, the carpet tack for an abstraction usually caricatures an elusive h

- posted by poopbot: for the crapflooder in all of us

FCwj3Xb8yV Post #824

Not such a great idea (3, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948150)

The problem is that these things take no account for actual traffic conditions.

In the real world, nobody ever drives the speed limit under good driving conditions. Realistic freeway speeds are at least 80 in nondeveloped areas, and cars going under that speed are actually at increased risk.

Besides, nothing like this will ever stop the experimentation kids do in cars. In my younger days, I did donuts in the empty church parking lot, caught air on the Spooner St. bridge, drove my car over a lawn or two, etc. No excessive speed involved (you'd jump Spooner doing 35).

IMO, your best bet is to buy your kid a fairly modern, safe car without too much extra juice (try a Toyota with side-curtain airbags with traction control and ABS, or a Volvo if it's in your means) -- buying kids old cars is actually more dangerous due to the lack of modern safety gear. Those parents buying their kids Z3's... well, that's just natural selection at work.

Base lesson: No good ever came of spying on your kids and making it clear you don't have any trust for them.

Re:Not such a great idea (5, Insightful)

neksys (87486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948195)

Or don't buy your kids cars at ALL. That's where the, "I can do what I want with this car, mommy and daddy will just buy me a new one" mentality comes from.

Re:Not such a great idea (2)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948252)

True, but the flip side of that is that most kids won't be able to afford a safe car on their own and will end up with an old Pinto or something.

The best solution is probably the one my parents used: figure out how much I make an hour, then subsidize a decent-but-not-insane used car to a price where it represented a *lot* of work. I got a used Buick LaSabre for $1000, which was about 150 hours of grunt work at a local pharmacy for me, and my parents covered the rest.

time until modification... (1)

umStefa (583709) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948158)

about 2 days after these devices are mandated. Since the insurance company/ dmv / every other goverment agency is going to want to have access to these black boxes, I think that they will be standardized (i.e. OBD-II).

This means that someone will violate the DMCA by producing a device that makes sure all the inputs into the black box read perfect (i.e. Legal).

Just have to remember to remove modifications after next 'incident' :)

TechTV/Radio (0)

TJPile (220972) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948159)

Wow. Usually I read things first on Slashdot and see them a while later on TechTV or hear them on the radio.
My local radio station talked about this 2 weeks ago and TechTV''s TechLive did a story on this last week. They even reviewed another gadget which was a GPS for your car that allowed one to track it on the Internet in real time. A father caught his son driving to San Francisco in his new Audi instead of going to the movies.

The insurance companies will LOVE this.

This would be excellent for insurance co's to .... (3, Insightful)

gmajor (514414) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948167)

This would be an excellent device for insurance co's to install in everyone's car. The insurance comapny could reduce their risk by identify which drivers are prone to cause the most accidents, with a greater accuracy. This would raise rates on bad drivers, which would in effect lower the rates of good drivers.

More importantly, this might save someone's life!

I'm sure people living in states like New York or New Jersey (where I hear the cost of car insurance is very high) would not mind anything that lowers their rates. So should I pay thousands of dollars on insurance, or let my insurance company install a box that gets my rates reduced by a few hundred, maybe even a thousand? You make the call...

Re:This would be excellent for insurance co's to . (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948259)

the fear is, it would become like the black box in the cab in the movie "Fifth element"
Oops, you sped, that will be anther 50 bucks this month.
Forget that you where passing, or trying to get out of the way of another vehical.

thats NOT what there doing, but mandatory instalation would be wrong.

Actually worked on a vehicle tracker device (1)

Callamon (575967) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948169)

I wrote the software to interface a device that tracked a vehicle's trips with a PC (miles driven, start/stop times, long pauses, over-speeds) for managing fleet vehicles.

Unfortunately my boss (the owner of the company and the guy who had the idea) died of cancer, and the project never got completed, or I may not be working for someone else right now (I was going to own part of the company).

This wasn't that invasive, as it was only designed for company cars, trucks, and government vehicles.. It probably would have led to something that recorded more details eventually, but that wasn't the vision that the owner had for it at all.

Come on (0)

bleachboy (156070) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948174)

Nobody likes "big brother" but I have no problem if a parent who is loaning their MINOR child THEIR car wants to mount fucking two way video communications in there so they can watch every move their child makes. I would never do it, but it's nothing to get worked up about. It's probably better than being grounded, anyhow.

Saying "..but what's next?" with this story is idiotic. The fuzz can slap a GPS on your car here and now if the right law gets passed, this special "black box" is hardly "a step in the direction of facism".

This is just about the zillionth time (0, Troll)

CitznFish (222446) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948187)

This is just about the zillionth time this has been talked about on /. Are you guys running out of topics?

zillionth = too many times to actually care about the story one more time...

Most cars already monitor driving habits... (1)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948192)

If your car was made after the switch to ODB II, then your car already has a very sophisticated monitoring system already. For example, my '00 Audi S4 has an ODB port on it and I use software called VAG-COM which allows me to monitor what the engine is doing in real-time. Its quite effective to diagnose problems, or just make pretty charts, or to help you tune a car for more power. Many of my friends drive the new BMW M3 and some have destroyed their engines. How do you think BMW knows if it is the drivers fault or a flaw in the engine design? Yup, they check the on-board systems for memory of what happened right before the problem happened. The insurance companies probably would like to get to that data but the problem is the fact that it is tough to record the data. I'm sure if big brother wanted to adapt it, all they'd need is a wireless modem and download the data each night. By the way, the Mclaren F1 (million dollar street car) already has a modem which allows its manufacturers to diagnose problems from their headquarters in England. Its just a matter of time before its all put together.

LOVELY SNOT! WONDERFUL SNOT! by poopbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948193)

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- posted by poopbot: who doesn't like scat?

w97WTORVXv Post #826

Sounds good to me (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948194)

I'd like to see these everywhere and think everyone should have one. Its a great idea and the time has come to mandate this.

I won't mention that its also very tempting and easy to hook up a PDA to a small transmitter and emulation tranducers to fool these little black boxes into making them think you only drive your car down your driveway at 5mph in one direction for a few hours a day and they will never think you do anything bad.

this is a good thing (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948200)

New drivers don't know what the hell they're doing. I think in order to get your 1st liscense you should have to drive around with on of these in your car for a week, and have the evaluation of your driving habits be part of you 'driving test'.

As a parent, I will put this in the car my children will drive when they are lod enough. Not as a way to punish them, but as a way to instill better driving habits.

monitoring your childrem, and the government monitoring, or forcing some to monitor, individuals are two wildly different things.

I was fortunate, my father sent me to a top notch driving school where I learned how to control a vehical in a great many situations. those class's saved my life more often the knowing what the punishment is for drunk driving.

A Dichotomy... (1)

Nashville Guy (585073) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948202)

I think it is kind of funny the way some things contrast. I look at some of the arguments here about how this technology can be used by the government to reduce rights and freedoms (and some are good arguments).

Then, over on Fox News, there is an article about a class action law suit against Burger King, McDonalds, and KFC by a group of people who think that those restaurants made them obese and gave them health problems.

That is democracy for ya! No Big Brother, but I got fat because you didn't tell me how to eat right. Two different issues, but still funny when you put 'em together.

Re:A Dichotomy... (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948262)

Quoting rather loosely: "And the United States? They believe that by counting the snouts of the wise and the ignorant alike, they can somehow arive at a wise decision." -- Straha, Shiplord

There are these things called odometers... (3, Insightful)

InsMonkey (324276) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948205)

Insurance companies could care less about where you drive, but they are definitely be interested in knowing when you are on the road and for how long. The more time you spend unparked increases your odds of having an accident. That's why they rate older drivers better, because their 25' Buicks spend most of the time parked. Driving at night significantly increases your risk of having an accident. It astronomically increases your risk of having an accident with (or as) a drunk driver. How do I know this? I used to be an underwriter for an auto insurance company...

Both good and bad (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948209)

Well, on the one hand, I don't care for the loss of privacy. But on the other hand, there are a lot of bad drivers out there. Who don't like to be told that they drive too fast, that yellow does not mean "race the light", and that getting to work 5 minutes earlier is not worth risking your life.

I used to commute on CA-17, which connects Silicon Valley with Santa Cruz. It's always full of people who think nothing of driving 80 mph on a windy mountain road, who think anybody who observes the speed limit is doing it just to piss them off, and who basically exhibit behavior that wouldn't be tolerated anywhere except on the highway.

And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Communication. One reason people love their cars is that it's the one place they don't have to listen to anybody. Unfortunately, lots of people abuse this solitude. If you behaved, say, in a line at McDonalds the same way people behave on Highway 17, people would communicate a lot of anger to you. (That kind of communication while driving is known as "road rage".) Attempts have been made to communicate to the over-assertive driver. With results even -- whenever the CHP ups its presence on 17 the death rate goes way down. But the concept communicated is not "speed kills" but rather "be a good little boy when daddy's watching."

If some people end up getting supervised because they think good behavior is just a game, they've only themselves to blame.

Probaly not the biggest concern for Teenagers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948211)

Driving habits aren't what most teenagers i know would be worried about. If there was a little black box that recorded how much dope was smoked in the car than i think most teenagers would be worried.

Not in my car!!! (1)

Evil MarNuke (209527) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948212)

There is no way I would buy a car with one of these black boxes. To the best of my knowledge my RSX doesn't have any system that keep track of how many times I hit the rev limitor or how fast I go, at least I hope not!! The last thing I need is someone I don't know and don't trust knowing when and where I took my weekly sprinited driving trip. I have reached triple the speed limit on twisty back roads. Personally I think it's should be none of anyone busy how fast I drive unless I hit someone. I think speed limits are set WAY to low. The type of car, traffic, and road condition determain how fast is safe.

Anyways, as far as teen drivers, give them a crappy old tank of a car after they turn 18. Let them drive that clunker for a year and promise that if they keep it in good shape and wreck free you'll buy them a car they want. That is what I wished my parents did before giving me a classic muscle car.

This has been going on for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948228)

In the Large Equipment industry. A friend of mine worked for Cat and they had boxes to record everything on all of the big rigs and tractors. It was the only way to find out what went wrong when it came in for warranty work. When it was a 50grand engine, you needed to know if they guy was running it 1K above redline non-stop or if it was just a fluke. It also could tell you if the problem was a long time coming, or just happened all of a sudden like.

Now comes the real question, can you upload a new driving record to the box using your own laptop or PDA? Removing the worst flags and artificially inflating your driving record?

Federal Mandate (1)

multimed (189254) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948233)

Rather than when will insurance companies mandate this, when will the politicians (whose pockets are greased by the insurance and other "interested parties") pass legislation that with holds federal highway funding unless the states require it. Just like the drunk driving laws--never mind the fact that lowering BAC limit to .08 from .1 does nothing to reduce the accidents from drunk driving. At least around here, I'd bet at least 75% of the time when there's a druk driving fatality, the driver had been convicted of drunk driving multiple times typically with BAC of .15 or higher.

OK OT rant, it's a hot topic for me--I guess I could use a karma smacking anyway. steve

[on by] A modest proposal by poopbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948235)

It seems that the Janitors, in their infinite wisdom, have banned people who have low/negative karma from posting more than twice per day. Personally I find this completely stupid.

All the trolls will simply post AC as I am doing now. Proxies can be used to get around any ipid bans that result from AC trolls.

Surely it is better to let the trolls post at -1 where it is out of most peoples way rather than have them all post at 0 and suck up mod points and time from "legit" users?

I have tried to communicate my thoughts to the slashcode team but alas, to no avail. They are probably all sittin on their starwars bed sheets watching anime hentai tentacle rape pr0n.

Here is my proposal: All trolls that cannot post using their account post as AC. Use proxies if need be (www.antiproxy.com [antiproxy.com] is a good source). I suspect this will show them how useless this idea is. Will blocking troll uid's stop trolls? NO! will ipid bans stop trolls? NO!

I seriously fail to see the point of this and consider it a stupid move by the janitors.

They want us to troll and crapflood at 0 rather than -1? Fine! So be it! No longer will we post at -1 where few people dare to visit, now we will post at 0 where we will be more visible and waste peoples time, energy and mod points! Hoorah!

The next thing you know, posting AC will be banned! Then what will you do? No more posting interesting insider tidbits! Groupthink all the way baby! oh yeah!

So logout, post shit, use proxies and above all have fun!

Let the games begin! -- on by

- posted by poopbot: who doesn't like scat?

Fya41esViY Post #827

Aviation (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948236)

Black boxes started out on airplanes because in the early days, a lot of planes would go down and not leave any evidence as to why. Because of that, the black boxes were developed as a way to record data in case of a crash. They are still extremely useful in figuring out what went wrong, and how the accident chain for such an incident can be broken in the future. I am not so sure that black boxes in cars would contribute in the same way. Typically the cause of the accident is a fairly straightforward thing to figure out, and the resolution process is already well established. Nonetheless, I would not put it past insurance companies to attempt to legislate the use of tracking devices as a way to increase their own revenue.

$2500 is a RIP OFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3948245)

I could build the same thing using a handspring and a GPS module for around $300 (ebay) ....

Then put this unit into a box (not metal) with a serial connection to hook up to your computer... viola...

Actually I've had this idea for a while but just too lazy to make it...

Misuse? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948251)

A thing that comes to my mind is if you can track someones locations with the toy? If so it sounds a little to freaky. If something can be used to track violations of the law cheaply it is something agancies and police would want to have. Its nothing nothing paranoid about that. Its just plain old history of previous behaviour.

How much does this really help? (2, Insightful)

slagdogg (549983) | more than 12 years ago | (#3948255)

I can see the thinking here, but since it only monitors the driving from the perspective of the car, it misses some important things ... like why they are happening. For example, most erratic or irresponsible driving amongst teens is due to them talking to their friends in the car, trying to use a cell phone, drinking, fiddling with the radio, etc.

For example, even with this device installed I could be driving down the street (at the speed limit) talking on my cell phone, smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer through a straw, having sex with my girlfriend and tailgating the car in front of me ... and I'd still look like a perfect driver according to this device. So much for accountability :)
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