Black Box Busted…….On The Dashboard Of My Car
















Letter B

One day I was reading an article from the Providence Journal. The headline read; “Motorist traveling 106 MPH seconds before his death.” I’m not normally one to read about car crashes and home fires (which also proves to reason I don’t watch NASCAR races) but the headline piqued my curiosity for a sole reason. I was thinking how strange it must have been for a police officer to be out on a darken road at 1:30 in the AM with his radar gun looking for speeders only to have a car blow by doing 106 MPH and right before his eyes, blow up in a fiery explosion.

That is not what happened, and as usual, it’s good to not always follow the headline, but actually read the article, and find out the “real” details.

As it turns out, the driver did die in a senseless and reckless crash, but how they found out he was speeding along at 106 MPH was ascertained by retrieving the data from the car’s “black box.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa……..what did you say Zulu? Is this blog about a plane or a car?” You read right; they got the information from the car’s black box!

It started in 1994 by some GM cars. The information was used by manufactures to help understand how their cars performed in a crash.

According to Kim Komando, in an article for USA TODAY; Since the early 2000s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been collecting black box information to get a better picture of the circumstances surrounding car accidents. In 2013, 96% of every new car sold in the United States came with a black box, and as of Sept. 1, 2014, every new vehicle must have one installed.

The information includes vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, if seat-belts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and more. Manufacturers may also have up to 30 additional data points if they want, excluding, they say, GPS location, video and audio.

Oh great; in addition to my driving habits being reviewed, the NHTSA won’t find out that seconds before I crashed, I “flipped off” the driver who cut me off and sent me flying up over the guard rail and yet failed to record their license plate. How about the time that I was traveling 22 MPH in a 20 MPH school zone when I got hit by a rain of snowballs causing me to spin out and hit a tree, or most damning, was the incident I was singing off-key to the radio while blasting away the Partridge Family; which may or may not be true, but what would the April A-Z Blog Challenge be for all my faithful readers without out a P-Family reference.

As with everything in the “modern world,” there are plenty of “privacy concerns” about the electronic data; who can access it, and how that data can incriminate us to the insurance companies, the state DMV’s, and the courts.

Singing off-key will be the least of our problems.


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