Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Black boxes in cars give info to police, insurance companies
KMOV TV St. Louis MO ^ | 1/31/03 | Reporter: Marc Cox, News 4

Posted on 01/31/2003 8:58:01 PM PST by YOMO

There's a new device on most automobiles these days that you don't see listed in the owner's manual. If it works properly, it can save your life. But to accomplish that task, the small computer chip needs to know information about your car and how you drive it. Police and insurance companies are now able to get their hands on that information.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: autoshop; blackbox; insurancecompany; privacy; privacylist
There's a new device on most automobiles these days that you don't see listed in the owner's manual. If it works properly, it can save your life. But to accomplish that task, the small computer chip needs to know information about your car and how you drive it. Police and insurance companies are now able to get their hands on that information. With every airline crash, the so-called black boxes -- which are actually orange -- are the main focus for investigators. They give a glimpse in to the final seconds before a crash. Now, that same concept is allowing the Missouri Highway Patrol and others to see what you were you doing just before a car wreck.

Crash investigator Sergeant Dave Leitman uses the new technology to pinpoint a dead driver's actions. "They're running just over the speed limit -- 72 miles per hour. Suddenly, we have a change. The RPM drops down, and two seconds out, we're on the brake," Leitman says. This is the so-called black box -- which is actually silver -- found on many vehicles made since 1996. With his laptop computer and special software, Leitman can tap into exactly what happened in the seconds before the accident. "Am I confident the data here is correct? Yes, because it's being verified by what I'm seeing here. I'm matching with the evidence I have on my road," Leitman says. Police are currently only collecting the information in serious car crashes. But what if that information was used against you in court? Or used by your insurance company to deny a claim? "Most people are totally unaware this technology even exists, or that their car has the box," says Tim Finley, a private crash investigator. Finley also has the technology to access your car's data recorder, but for a different reason. "I'm hired mainly by insurance companies or law firms wanting to gather information about an accident after it's happened," he says. Finley uses your car's black box as a truth detector for insurance companies. "If someone claims an accelerator stuck on a car, they want to know is there a problem with the accelerator on that car, or perhaps was it an operator error?" he says. But what happens if you don't want to share? At the scene of an accident, the black box is considered evidence. But beyond that, the question of privacy hasn't been answered yet in court. Attorneys like Richard Sindel see both sides. "There may be one day I'm saying this technology is terrible, and another day I may be saying this is the greatest thing since sliced bread," he says. Until that is decided, investigators will welcome the flood of new data. "It's one more piece of snow that adds to the ball to get all the answers to the questions," Leitman says. However, it may send a chill down the spine of some drivers. If you're in an accident, you do have rights. At the scene, police may consider the information to be evidence. But unless your car is totaled and purchased from you by the insurance company, your insurance company would need your permission or a warrant to get the data. The box is located either under your driver's seat or under the dash. But you shouldn't try to remove it because it operates your airbag. For now, only the data in General Motors vehicles can be accessed. But Ford is about to approve similar software.

The Article below is from Tech Live.

Is There a Black Box in Your Car?

Debate rages on whether devices are lifesavers or privacy invaders.

By Becky Worley, Tech Live

Black boxes in airplanes sometimes help investigators figure out what caused a crash. Black boxes in cars could do the same. If you're one of the nation's 190 million drivers, you may be carting around a passenger you aren't aware of. The event data recorder (EDR) -- a collection of sensing and diagnostic modules -- employs relatively new technology. As "Tech Live" reports tonight, some say the device will save lives, but the EDR is raising serious questions about privacy rights.

EDRs record the following data:

Vehicle speed (five seconds before impact) Engine speed (five seconds before impact) Brake status (five seconds before impact) Throttle position (five seconds before impact) State of driver's seat belt switch (On/Off) Passenger's airbag (On/Off) SIR Warning Lamp status (On/Off) Time from vehicle impact to airbag deployment Ignition cycle count at event time Ignition cycle count at investigation Maximum velocity for near-deployment event Velocity vs. time for frontal airbag deployment event Time from vehicle impact to time of maximum velocity Time between near-deploy and deploy event (if within five seconds)

Using this data, insurance agents and police officers can reconstruct the events leading up to a crash.

Black boxes have been in all GM cars since 1999 and in many other makes and models since 1996. (See the links below to see if your car comes standard with one.)

EDRs were originally intended to record what caused air bags to open. The data that triggers the air bag often tells the story of what happened in the seconds before a crash.

An even more advanced version of the EDR is being tested by Ford in police cars. This model sends data to 911 dispatchers in the event of a crash. It even allows dispatchers to talk to the occupants of the vehicle after the crash and relay the exact location of and number of passengers in the car.

Privacy concerns

Since these new black boxes are networked to the dispatchers, privacy issues rise even as auto execs tout the safety improvements afforded by the device. The big issue: tracking. Who monitors the data sent from each car?

David Sobel from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says he fears citizens will lose control of that data.

"The bottom line is, the user, in this case the driver, really needs to be in control of what kind of information is collected, how long it's maintained, and who is going to have access to it," he said.

Judy Bridgeman-Veal, a spokeswoman for the Ford Motor Company, disputes Sobel's concerns.

"This is not a constant monitoring system," she said. "Unless there is an accident, there will not be any tracking."

Even though auto companies insist privacy will be protected, there are currently no standards in place.

For more on EDRs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a comprehensive guide on its website.

1996 Model Cars

The following list is of 1996 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Riviera Buick Skylark Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Express GMC Safari GMC Savana Oldsmobile Achie Oldsmobile Aurora Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand AM Pontiac Sunfire All Saturn models

1997 Model Cars

The following list is of 1997 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick LeSabre Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Buick Riviera Buick Skylark Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet Monte Carlo Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet Venture GM EV1 GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Yukon Oldsmobile Achieva Oldsmobile Aurora Oldsmobile Cutlass Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Oldsmobile Silhouette Pontiac Bonneville Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand AM Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Sunfire Pontiac Trans Port All Saturn models

1998 Model Cars

The following list is of 1998 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick LeSabre Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Buick Riviera Buick Skylark Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet Monte Carlo Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet S10 Chevrolet S10 electric Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe GMC Jimmy GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Sonoma GMC Yukon Oldsmobile Achieva Oldsmobile Aurora Oldsmobile Bravada Oldsmobile Cutlass Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Oldsmobile Intrigue Pontiac Bonneville Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand AM Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Sunfire All Saturn models

1999 Model Cars

The following list is of 1999 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick LeSabre Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Buick Riviera Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Escalade Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet Monte Carlo Chevrolet S10 Chevrolet S10 Electric Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe GM EV1 GMC Jimmy GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Sonoma GMC Yukon Oldsmobile Alero Oldsmobile Aurora Oldsmobile Bravada Oldsmobile Cutlass Oldsmobile Cutlass Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Oldsmobile Intrigue Pontiac Bonneville Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand AM Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Sunfire All Saturn Models

2000 Model Cars

The following list is of 2000 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick LeSabre Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Escalade Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Impala Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet Monte Carlo Chevrolet S10 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet Venture GMC Jimmy GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Sonoma GMC Yukon Isuzu Hombre Oldsmobile Alero Oldsmobile Bravada Oldsmobile Intrigue Oldsmobile Silhouette Pontiac Bonneville Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand Am Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Montana Pontiac Sunfire All Saturns except the LS

2001 Model Cars

The following list is of 2001 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Escalade Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet S10 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet Venture GMC Jimmy GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Sonoma GMC Yukon Isuzu Hombre Oldsmobile Alero Oldsmobile Aurora Oldsmobile Bravada Oldsmobile Intrigue Oldsmobile Silhouette Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand Am Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Montana Pontiac Sunfire All Saturns except the LS

2002 Model Cars

The following list is of 2002 model cars that come standard with EDRs, according to the Accident Reconstruction Network:

Buick Century Buick LeSabre Buick Park Avenue Buick Regal Buick Rendezvous Cadillac Commercial Special Cadillac Deville Cadillac Eldorado Cadillac Escalade Cadillac Seville Chevrolet Avalanche Chevrolet Astro Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet Cavalier Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet Express Chevrolet Impala Chevrolet Lumina Chevrolet Malibu Chevrolet S10 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet Suburban Chevrolet Tahoe Chevrolet TrailBlazer GMC Envoy GMC Safari GMC Savana GMC Sierra GMC Sonoma GMC Yukon Isuzu Hombre Oldsmobile Alero Oldsmobile Aurora Oldsmobile Bravada Oldsmobile Intrigue Pontiac Aztec Pontiac Bonneville Pontiac Firebird Pontiac Grand Am Pontiac Grand Prix Pontiac Sunfire All Saturns except the LS

1 posted on 01/31/2003 8:58:01 PM PST by YOMO
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: YOMO
I think I'll pass on this "technology"
2 posted on 01/31/2003 9:00:03 PM PST by Mulder (Guns and chicks rule)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mulder
No way no how,no no no.
3 posted on 01/31/2003 9:04:03 PM PST by noutopia
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: noutopia
Guess what, you can't disconnect it. It is part of theAir Bag Deployment System. I know it Sucks when potentialy the insurance companies could use it against you.
4 posted on 01/31/2003 9:08:12 PM PST by YOMO
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: *Privacy_list; *Auto Shop
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
5 posted on 01/31/2003 9:09:11 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
Hell, I'll take out the airbag then.
6 posted on 01/31/2003 9:17:02 PM PST by Dan from Michigan (I feel the need...for speed!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
The moral of this story seems to be "do not buy GM."
7 posted on 01/31/2003 9:17:41 PM PST by ECM
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: YOMO; Ernest_at_the_Beach
I'm calling in some expert help.

Ernest, please do that hi-tech ping thing that you do so well. Maybe some hi-tech FReeper knows how to get rid of this spy-in-the-car thingy.

8 posted on 01/31/2003 9:21:56 PM PST by LibKill (ColdWarrior. I stood the watch.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
BUMP
9 posted on 01/31/2003 9:22:49 PM PST by RippleFire (Hold mein bier!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
In most fatal accidents involving 4 wheel drives the last words were "Hold my beer and watch this"
10 posted on 01/31/2003 9:22:54 PM PST by WKB
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
Easy solution...find out where the chip is, and smash the crap out of it after you get in an accident. (yeah, I know, there's probably a destruction of evidence problem...)
11 posted on 01/31/2003 9:24:31 PM PST by July 4th
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
If anyone is interested in reading more, seeing one of the data recovery tools or reading the vehicle lists in a more eye-friendly format, check it out HERE. Interesting, there are no Ford models listed, but Ford is mentioned as a participant in making the data available. A local TV news program ran a segment on the "Event Data Recorders" a few nights ago and they mentioned that Ford was using the things. With all the fleet vehicles that Ford sells, they've *gotta* be installing them.

Sure makes me appreciate my '65 Mustang.

12 posted on 01/31/2003 9:25:09 PM PST by Cloud William
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
your insurance company would need your permission or a warrant to get the data.

Cops get warrants. Civil litigants would use a Request for Production. (F.R.Civ.P. Rule 34) State Rules may vary. Or better yet, if state law permits, draft access rights into the insurance contract itself.

13 posted on 01/31/2003 9:28:43 PM PST by PAR35
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: July 4th
Easy solution...find out where the chip is, and smash the crap out of it after you get in an accident.

Too obvious. However, it should be possible to discharge a big ol' capacitor into that eeprom chip via the data port under the dash. Think "ZOT!" :-)

14 posted on 01/31/2003 9:29:50 PM PST by Cloud William
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
My '88 Ford Ranger is going to look a whole lot better in the morning.
15 posted on 01/31/2003 9:55:30 PM PST by 1tin_soldier
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: July 4th
Easy solution...find out where the chip is, and smash the crap out of it after you get in an accident. (yeah, I know, there's probably a destruction of evidence problem...)

So find it and smash the crap out of it now before it becomes evidence.

16 posted on 01/31/2003 10:04:39 PM PST by VoiceOfBruck (and don't buy GM next time)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
All the more reason to drive an old restored 1957 Chevy. This kind of stuff is foreseeable, given the available technology and the tendency of government and big business to sort of "cooperate" under the table.
17 posted on 01/31/2003 10:14:20 PM PST by Marauder (Term limits is built into the system. Use it or we'll lose it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: VoiceOfBruck
Airbag won't work.
18 posted on 02/01/2003 2:41:17 AM PST by Maelstrom (Government Limited to Enumerated Powers is your freedom to do what isn't in the Constitution.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
Insurance companies in Ireland are asking young motorists to have these installed on their cars (at their own cost) to bring down the cost of insurance policies.

If you are a young male in Ireland an annual insurance policy could be anything up to $4,000.
19 posted on 02/01/2003 2:53:59 AM PST by Happygal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
I worked on this technology for OLDSMOBILE. Of course, that division is now history. But the system was really invasive. It would record and transmit all SPEED, and TRANSMISSION shifting, and Seat-SENSOR information via antenna. The information would be tracked 24 hr and recorded somehow.

I didn't work on that side of the project.

Each car and each system inside of the car would hav a unique identifier and all would be connected via a Automobile LAN (known as a "CAN").

The people monitoring the recordings can determine how you treated the car...and if you used the designated roads or not...and if you made complete stops at the stopsigns...and if you had other people in the cars...and if you stopped for gas...(and depending on the engine info) what kind of fuel you bought...

Further,

By looking at the GPS info they had a complete record of your travels and time and the action of the engine during that time...they could tell if you did "donuts"...(There's a story there)...since the electronic info including the PC, Telephone and video system were all tied to the broadcast system, we could see what phone calls were made...and to whom...in which portion of the car they were made...when...andwhere.

The GM system was for OLDSMOBILE, but I understand that it has sister units going into other GM divisions.
20 posted on 02/01/2003 6:04:04 AM PST by vannrox (The Preamble to the Bill of Rights - without it, our Bill of Rights is meaningless!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: YOMO
Wow, yet another reason to avoid General Mistake.
21 posted on 02/01/2003 6:06:27 AM PST by Petronski (I'm not always cranky.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Maelstrom
Airbag won't work. So much the better! I'm not too keen on driving around with live explosives a foot from my face.
22 posted on 02/09/2003 4:58:27 PM PST by VoiceOfBruck (this is not Big Brother's Oldsmobile)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: VoiceOfBruck
The SDM airbag module is the 'black box' that everyone is talking about. GM cars with airbags since 1973 have been recording crash data. I would suspect that every car builder out there has recorded crash data stored in the airbag module. GM DOES mention in the owners manual that data is recorded.

The recorded crash data belongs to the owner of the vehicle. You can send the airbag module off to be downloaded by a private company vs the state police.

Some late model Ford vehicles also have this data recored.

The airbag SDM stands for...sensing diagnostic module.

Vetronix makes and sells the equipment that can download the crash data. Most GM cars since 1994 have data available that can be downloaded. Future software upgrades may include years before that...and other companies such as Honda or BMW etc.

Destroying the SDM....if it can be proved that you damaged the SDM. The courts really frown on this. You could lose your case.

We happen to have the Vetronix CDR equipment that can access this info. Also lots of info on the SDM. It can be seen at our website-

http://www.airbagcrash.com

Logan





25 posted on 02/05/2004 9:01:38 PM PST by Logan Diagnostic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson