Psst, Your Car Is Watching You
Event-data recorders (EDRs) are microcomputers in black boxes concealed in a third of the cars now on the road. Though these microcomputers do not obtain voices in the event of a crash, as they do on airplanes, they can store as much as 20 seconds of information on speed, braking, and acceleration in the moments before a crash.
The federal government is scheduled to publish this week regulations mandating auto manufacturers to standardize the recorders and make the data downloadable by everyone with commercial software.
Certain consumer activists want stricter rules forcing carmakers to implement EDRs in each vehicle because objective crash information will result in design for better cars and highways.
Meanwhile, privacy advocates want the government to keep police and insurance firms from looking at drivers’ black boxes without approval.
Police and legal prosecutors are lauding the EDRs, and in a minimum of 19 states, judges have allowed the information as proof in criminal trials.
A Roman Catholic bishop in Arizona was found guilty in a hit-and-run accident after his car’s black box revealed that he has braked prior to impact, showing that he had seen the pedestrian.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Time (08/14/06) Vol. 168, No. 7, P. 58; Roosevelt, Margot .