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Mandatory Automotive Black Boxes May Be On the Way

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the pesky-privacy-laws-be-damned dept.

Privacy 619

Attila Dimedici writes "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to announce a new regulation requiring all vehicles to contain a 'black box.' Not only that, but the devices would be designed to make it difficult (possibly illegal) to modify what information these devices collect or to disable them even though the courts have ruled that the owner of the vehicle owns the data. The courts have also ruled that authorities may access that data (to what degree and whether a warrant is necessary depends on the state)."

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Next we will all be required to be chipped (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226506)

it's for the children.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (1, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226514)

And next, it won't be you talking to the chip, but the chip talking to you.

Welcome to the Matrix, Neo, which pill will you have?

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (1)

Stele (9443) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226598)

They will be the same pill, regardless of which one you pick. The "choice" is an illusion.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (4, Funny)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226602)

I agree. For crying out loud when will people realize that they are putting their lives and the lives of others in danger. After all, why do you *need* to drive your own car? Take a bus. Take a cab. Take the subway. Let a state licensed professional drive you around. I've never understood why people feel they have a right to choose to do something dangerous. With mandatory black boxes in vehicles the state will be able to show that the professionals are the ones who should be behind the wheel.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226658)

at least in NYC it's the professionals that break the most traffic laws and drive dangerously. bus driver, taxi cab drivers, medical van drivers and other people who drive a lot for work. they are the ones running the most red lights and getting pissed off at you if you drive within the laws

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (2, Funny)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226716)

Driving within the laws in New York would actively be either dangerous or incredibly inefficient for hundreds or thousands of people behind you in a lot of cases. If you follow the wrong signs, you will smash your car into concrete barriers. If you follow "Lane closed Merge [right/left]" signs, you will change lanes without cause many times, increasing the likelihood of accident. If you only drive in lanes, regardless of what street you are on, rather than edging forward into available space, you will make your trip much, much, much slower, causing dozens or hundreds of cars to have to get around you in New York Traffic.

That being said, one has to know which laws are de jure and which are de facto. For example, one should merge the first time you see a lane closed sign, and possible for a week or two after (or at least be aware) in case they put the sign up before working instead of leaving it up. Similarly, it is almost never okay to run a red light. In fact, it is best to assume it just isn't okay.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (4, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226840)

I've lived in NYC for 10 years, drive often and drive within the laws. Your comment is a joke. There are bad eggs everywhere; sometimes they're the majority. _THEY_ are the ones making it unsafe.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226664)

I've never understood why people feel they have a right to choose to do something dangerous.

It's that freedom thing. I have a right to make decisions, even if I could make choices that are harmful to myself or others.

With mandatory black boxes in vehicles the state will be able to show that the professionals are the ones who should be behind the wheel.

People don't exist for the convenience of the state, but the other way around. I'd rather the state be unable to demonstrate that its drivers are "professionals" in this manner.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (1, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226808)

actually, you should have a right to do anything so long as it doesn't trample those same rights afforded to your fellow citizens.

eg: you have a right to go off trail while hiking, but you do not have a right to tax payer money to free you when you get lost. Free speech is fine and all, even if you say the most derogatory comments. Mainly because those offended have a choice not to listen to you. But yelling fire in a cinema?

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226694)

"Take a bus. Take a cab. Take the subway."

Yep, at least those have additional video recordings, unlike in your car, they'll know it's you.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226842)

Because it's fun, that's why. And, for the record, I've driven close to 1,000,000 miles in my 39 years of driving and NEVER caused an accident. Just because you don't like it, don't deprive me of the pleasure. BTW, there are no subways in rural areas, dang few taxis and no buses.

Re:Next we will all be required to be chipped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226774)

As long as they also force cyclists to have them, then fine.

Might stop them running red lights constantly, riding over pavements, the wrong way up one-way streets etc. I'd love to see them finally having to pay fines for this.

malfunctions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226510)

It shouldnt be to hard to induce a malfunction in one of these car monitors.

I'm sorry Dave (5, Interesting)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226702)

I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

But on a more serious note. What if the devices function was central to the motors operation. You know a lot of your motor is computer controlled these days.

Additionally, if they become ubiquitous and are seen as a "flawless device which is on the whole tamper proof", regardless of the reality, if your device is faulty, that may be entered into evidence in a trial against you, as evidence of your guilt. This might satisfy mens rea, instantly, and might even be secondary evidence (forget the proper name) of actus rea. Though, traffic violations in many countries already immediately satisfies mens rea, and so it wouldn't help much there.

I don't like where it's going. Especially with regards to Tom Tom, iPhone GPS, and similar data, also being used, while shows like CSI lead people to believe that this data is perfect evidence which can't be faked.

This is not good news. Though, it would make a nice black market for older cars, which don't or couldn't have them installed.

disbale (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226512)

disbale

I agree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226524)

As long as the black box is offline and has at most 1 hour memory, I definitely agree. Useful to understand what happened in case of accidents, especially to prosecute those who cause accidents by speeding.

Re:I agree (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226550)

"especially to prosecute those who cause accidents by speeding."

Instead of pulling over the slow guy doing 10 under in the fast lane?

Why not fix the source of the problem instead of the effects of said problem? The most dangerous thing on the road is a slow conservative person who believes they do not have to yield for faster traffic, if they are doing the speed limit.

Actually most laws in the US are worded so that no matter how fast you go, you still have to yield if someone is going faster. Cops sort out who is going too fast, either way it's your job to MOVE. Somehow conservative people believe they follow the law, but in reality they pick and choose what they follow.

If you're such a goodie two shoes, the law says "slower yields to faster", NOT "slower only yields to faster if slow person is doing less than the speedlimit".

Tards

Re:I agree (-1, Troll)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226610)

@AC

I've been driving for the better part of the past 10 years, have had no at-fault accidents and drive very safely. I do a mix of city driving and long range highway driving. I spend a majority of the time of driving in the left lane with cruise control on (I live in a state where we don't have a keep right law).

I can assure you that I have almost *never* encountered a person in the "fast lane" going beneath the speed limit except in the cases of congestion.

What I can tell you, however, is that no matter how "fast" I am going in the "fast lane" (60mph, 70mph, 80mph, even 90mph at times)--there is always at least *someone* that wants to go faster.

So your claims of "people going 10 under" in the "fast" lane are unfounded and coming from someone that is likely one of the people above.

Here's a tip for you: slow the fuck down.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226672)

you're that jerk tooling along in the #1 lane. keep right, except for passing. just because it isn't forbidden doesn't mean it is mandatory.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226760)

"What I can tell you, however, is that no matter how "fast" I am going in the "fast lane" (60mph, 70mph, 80mph, even 90mph at times)--there is always at least *someone* that wants to go faster."

Then get the fuck out of the left lane. It's for passing, imbecile.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226764)

You're just an asshole. The left lane is not the "drive what I consider to be fast" lane, it's the passing lane. Here's a tip for you, keep the fuck out of it unless you're passing someone. It's not fucking difficult or confusing, and by fucking it up you make the road more dangerous and traffic worse for everyone by forcing people to weave in and out of lanes to get around you.

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226758)

Damn, you're an idiot. I don't claim to be a perfect driver but the fact there are people on the roads like you worries me.

And in some countries, the official advice if someone is too close to your backside for you to have an adequate braking distance is to brake in order to recoup that distance from the front instead. I'd be very surprised if "slower yields to faster" is actually written ANYWHERE in the US Highway Code.

If someone's doing the speed limit it is legally *CORRECT* (but not necessarily the safest possible thing for that particular driver) to not go any faster. To "get out of your way" is up to the lane rules, which say that so long as THEY are overtaking, it's fine to be in the second overtaking lane (or third, if you have a four-lane motorway). Yes, they are called overtaking lanes (all except one). "Fast lane" is a term you won't find on any legal document or driving course.

The most dangerous thing on a road is tailgaters like yourself, especially high-speed tailgaters. If someone's doing the speed limit, sit behind them. They just might save your life one day.

That said, I'm far from a goodie-two-shoes and if you try that shite with someone who just-doesn't-care about your urgent appointment, or their clapped-out-old-motor, they might just choose to slam their brakes on. Guess who'll pay for having insufficient braking distance and travelling too fast? Guess whose car will be ruined beyond repair and whose car will just have the boot pushed out a bit, a new exhaust and be back on the road? Not the guy in front. "I was doing 70, officer, and saw a flash out of the corner of my eye - my instinct was to brake to avoid a collision and in doing so the idiot behind ran straight into me because he had insufficient braking distance between himself and the car in front".

YOU are the reason that speed cameras even exist - if you drove reasonably at those speeds, it wouldn't be a problem. Expecting the world and his brother to get out of your way is a good way to end up in the rear of a truck that just doesn't care, or didn't even see you (and didn't really need to if you were behind him).

Go for a drive on an Autobahn - I went there once and it was fabulous. Not the speed, the sheer courtesy of other drivers and the fact that ALL of them stick to the rules all the time. I nearly got arrested for turning in an empty two-way street, for God's sake! It's the least stressful driving experience I've ever had - 10 minutes in my home town had me cursing at people and braking to avoid the local nutters in their souped-up cars tearing across lanes without looking.

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226770)

Too further your point one does not know why the person behind you is speeding. Maybe there's a medical emergency that this person or passenger needs to get to the hospital fast. Maybe their kid is in a bad spot. Never assume that just because someone is speeding they are a jerk.

Re:I agree (2)

Chatterton (228704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226554)

No need to store 1h if it is for accidents. 10 min before and 5 min after a shock should be more than enough.

Re:I agree (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226642)

It is laughable that law enforcement needs these "tools" when they already have more than enough tools to tell them speed/direction of the auto in a crash. Also, no doubt that insurance companies love data to invalidate your insurance contract on the one rare occasion that you actually collect on your policy.

I am pretty sure that the true reason for these "black box" is to force GPS data to be collected so that it can be used by governments to tax by location and distance travelled. In local government meetings, it has been brought up years ago about the "dark side" to more fuel efficient autos (aka. Poorer people).

Re:I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226704)

we're already taxed by the distance traveled, because oil is taxed multiple times before getting burned in your engine.

Re:I agree (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226732)

"I am pretty sure that the true reason for these "black box" is to force GPS data to be collected so that it can be used by governments to tax by location and distance travelled."

Additionally they'll know when and where you speeded,
If they make blackbox needing a license to start the car, it can collect the fines automatically and refuse to start if you didn't pay or if you overdid it.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226788)

Yea, pretty much. I'm just waiting to get mailed a speeding ticket because of the GPS on my phone. Or better yet hear someone get a dynamic insurance rate increases with it.

Well well well (1)

FRAKK2 (166082) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226526)

I see alll those dangerous drivers, who fear being caught out when they put in thier fake claims are out in force!

Not a fan (1, Interesting)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226534)

First off, it being illegal to disable a part on my car? Is it making it safer or reducing pollution? Then why should removing it be illegal if it's my car?

I can understand keeping your engine/power at certain levels, keeping pollution to a minimum, and keeping your lights/blinkers in a certain condition.

But why should I be forced to leave a black-box on my car if it's just going to be used retroactively to bite me in the *behind* in case of an accident.

Particularly since I have personal experience with a car's onboard computer acting screwy and recording the wrong information from my accelerator.

Re:Not a fan (3, Insightful)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226580)

Simple.. because if you don't have one during an accident, you're guilt by default!

Isn't choice wonderful?

Computers are infallible... (3, Funny)

Thruen (753567) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226600)

Don't you know computers don't make mistakes? Putting black boxes in cars will ensure that noone is ever found at fault when they shouldn't be, and that you're never wrongfully ticketed. This is the way things are going, it's like the cameras they use to catch speeders and red light runners, and those things have never made a mistake, certainly never been shown to consistently make mistakes... Seriously though, I like the idea of a black box system that will reliably determine who is at fault in an accident, but just like everything else, this bit of information will be misused. Anyone else remember when those plate-scanning cameras weren't going to be used to bust people with expired registrations and lapsed insurance?

Re:Computers are infallible... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226634)

Computers don't make mistakes, but sensors fail [airforcetimes.com] . $1.4 billion says that sensors aren't infallible.

Re:Computers are infallible... (2)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226816)

Computer aren't infallible, period. Trust me, after twenty seven years in IT/IM I can say that Data can be used to prove almost anything. And if the tech isn't solid, which it never truly is, so many errors will crop up and make it impossible to defend against. This is more 1984 big brother nonsense and must be stopped. Just as bad as having state cameras watching your kids in your home because they keep breaking the law (UK).

Re:Not a fan (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226606)

Simply because you do not own the roads, you do not clean up the mess and you don't have to pay for all the costs of hospitalisation, rehabilitation and permanent disability.

It's called vehicle registrations and drivers licence, don't like it, walk or take public transport.

Back to reality, the thing that needs to be locked at is the ramifications of being 1km over the speed 500 metres before the accident. Insurance companies being the scum of the earth that they are, will be looking to exclude payment for the slightest infraction or demanding contributory payment well beyond reasonable levels. The vehicle accident blackbox information should only be used if data indicated the drivers behaviour substantively contributed to the accident.

Driving record audits tied to GPS could be quite the hassle. Get a speeding ticket and based upon that get audited and get a whole bunch more.

Re:Not a fan (2)

Karem Lore (649920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226700)

Erm, if the fact of increasing payments towards fixing you car because you were over the speed limit reduces the cost of insurance, then that is a benefit to the careful driver.

What it is more likely do is improve lawyers income with people arguing with insurance companies over the fact that just because I was speeding earlier, at the point of the accident I was driving within the parameters of the law...

What gets me is if they can put these blackboxes in, and my gps does this anyway, why can't they regulate the speeds of the vehicle on the roads. If you are on the limit, the accelerator doesn't allow further acceleration, except in short bursts (which is needed for accident avoidance in certain situations). Oh wait...the police department won't be able to fine any more.

This is merely a revenue generation type black box. If you're going to do it on the premise of saving lives, go the whole way or don't do it at all...

Re:Not a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226780)

My car...my choice! If i want to drive 100MPH in a 55MPH zone, then the onus is on me to deal with the consequences.

I hear it now...."Oh you dirty law breaking citizen you!", but think driving away from a tornado on an abandon highway, driving your dying wife to the ER, etc.

Too much regulation. Enough is enough.

Re:Not a fan (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226836)

What gets me is if they can put these blackboxes in, and my gps does this anyway, why can't they regulate the speeds of the vehicle on the roads. If you are on the limit, the accelerator doesn't allow further acceleration, except in short bursts (which is needed for accident avoidance in certain situations). Oh wait...the police department won't be able to fine any more.

That would require really careful, defensive programming to avoid situations where 'suddenly' the system thinks you're in a residential road when you're in fact on the highway.

Re:Not a fan (2, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226790)

Simply because you do not own the roads, you do not clean up the mess and you don't have to pay for all the costs of hospitalisation, rehabilitation and permanent disability.

It's called vehicle registrations and drivers licence, don't like it, walk or take public transport.

Unlike keeping the car in working order, with legal power-ratings, and having the appropriate lighting (all required by registration and inspection) how does the black box clean up the mess and pay for the hospitalization / rehab / etc?

Your explanation is: it should be part of the registration / inspection process because the registration / inspection process does good things and is required to continue driving. It says nothing about why this specific issue should be enforced other than "because they say so." So you might as well be applying it to "drivers must carry a hand-held air horn with them at all times." Why?

At best, it can help determine which driver was at fault... thus determining whose Insurance should pay and perhaps who should have to face criminal/civil repercussions.

At worst it can record something incorrectly, they'll take it as hard-fact/truth and screw over someone that didn't do anything wrong.

As mentioned, I've already been in the situation where the onboard computer on a 2006+ car was reporting faulty data to the point that it was doing screwy things to car as I drove. I'd hate to see what a black box recorded from it if I got into an accident.

Meanwhile, the difference between something like a radar gun and something inside your car... in court cases it has to be proven (or provable) that a device was officially calibrated correctly following a schedule. The black boxes they already have, the only times they're ever touched is during install and during an accident.

So then you have to worry about people taking "the black box as infallible" standpoint. I've heard of a couple of court cases where they kept treating the black box as "truth" when it shouldn't have.

Re:Not a fan (3, Insightful)

afex (693734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226646)

as a EE who's pretty involved with both CAN communications and OBD systems, i'd love to hear your story about your car recording the wrong info from your accelerator.

(seriously, not trolling!)

Re:Not a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226662)

Particularly since I have personal experience with a car's onboard computer acting screwy and recording the wrong information from my accelerator.

Pics or it didn't happen.

Re:Not a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226718)

Particularly since I have personal experience with a car's onboard computer acting screwy and recording the wrong information from my accelerator

This a thousand times this! There are entire brands of cars/trucks that are known trouble makers with required computer swapouts every so many miles. I have had cars 'jump' to 150mph in my driveway. I have cars say '0' on the freeway. I have had cars over/under report mileage. I have cars jump by 1000 miles then back again. These things are *COMMON* but no one really cares as it is not that big of a deal if it is borked up for a few mins. Some are a bit worse, for example '0' on the freeway. But my mileage moving around? what do I care so long as its close...

Go ask someone who works on cars what they think of it. They will give you a long list of things why it will not work right.

And since I am going to be held accountable to what these things say can I get a look at the firmwares of all the devices on the car bus and the 'black box'? Also the known datasheets of known issues with my firmware levels. For example does the automatic car lock for some reason mess with the speedo? Things like that have been known to happen.

My dad used to sell cars. I can not tell you the number of computers he swapped out over the years. Because they would do some wonky thing or just be simply fried out but 'kinda working'. Me thinks who ever came up with this lame brain idea needs to drive a 20 year old car for about 2 years. They will think very differently about it after that.

Re:Not a fan (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226744)

"First off, it being illegal to disable a part on my car? Is it making it safer or reducing pollution? Then why should removing it be illegal if it's my car?"

Why is it illegal if it's your machine gun or cannon?
It's the law, silly.

Re:Not a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226818)

'Then why should removing it be illegal if it's my car?'

You can't take the weed and the cocaine, officer, it's mine!

Re:Not a fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226844)

You can be forced to have black-box to prove your innocence in case of a wreck in the same way you must keep financial document for 7 years to prove you did your taxes
correctly. The latter is far more cumbersome, and the black box would be useful to you if have an accident and the other party tries to claim you barreled through a stop sign when you did not. Black boxes will almost undoubtedly malfunction sometimes, but random assignment of guilt would almost be better than the status quo, which is guilt primarily based on the statement of a police officer, subject to enormous bias, and untrained in accident reconstruction (not that there would be time for one before a statement is given).

Not sure why we need more evidence for car crimes though, since their punishments are so pathetic. Around here you can admit to killing one, maiming one on a clear day on a long straight road because you weren't looking at the road and you get nothing more than a fine.

Limitation (2, Funny)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226540)

As long as the use is limited to investigate accidents ONLY, and they retain only about 15-30 minutes of data, it would be OK.

They shouldnt be used for general law enforcement like speeding,etc..

Re:Limitation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226592)

As long as the use is limited to investigate accidents ONLY, and they retain only about 15-30 minutes of data, it would be OK.

They shouldnt be used for general law enforcement like speeding,etc..

I'm sorry, but you know they will try something....

Re:Limitation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226608)

This is only the stepping stone for one day being used for general law enforcement.

States that don't have enough revenue start declaring that it is mandatory for the condition of the black boxes be checked once a year/once a month/whatever. Data is then downloaded and then fines assessed. The data is there, why not use it.

  No more need for the cop on the roads with outdated radar guns, saving the state even more money. That way the cops can go do what they do best. Go sit in a coffee shop and eat doughnuts.

Re:Limitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226614)

They shouldnt be used for general law enforcement like speeding,etc..

Why not? Is speeding not a crime?

Re:Limitation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226742)

No, speeding is not a crime.

Re:Limitation (1)

DJ Particle (1442247) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226750)

Not driving with the general traffic flow (whether above or below the limit) can be a crime (endangerment), where speeding is just a misdemeanor, so if you're doing 55 and the traffic is doing 70 (regardless of what the speed limit actually is), you could be opening yourself up to a worse offense. 2 drivers in Massachusetts around 1997 or so got hit with that (they were driving the speed limit (55) and traffic was significantly faster), and unsuccessfully fought the charges not once, but twice...

Re:Limitation (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226776)

Is speeding not a crime?

Heh, speeding is not in itself a crime. I've heard of a couple of criminal cases of speeding, but in these cases, the guy wasn't merely going a little over. In one case, the police didn't actually have something fast enough to overtake the guy (rumor had it, Maserati going full out on an interstate highway), so they waited for him at the exits.

Re:Limitation (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226616)

As long as the use is limited to investigate accidents ONLY, and they retain only about 15-30 minutes of data, it would be OK.

They shouldnt be used for general law enforcement like speeding,etc..

to paraphrase Murphy, anything that can be used, will be used. The upside is if courts accept the data they could also be used to show you are innocent.

Re:Limitation (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226654)

It would be simple to prevent speeding, with GPS enabled black boxes, they know you're in a 30mph zone, so it won't let the car exceed that.

Re:Limitation (1)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226720)

GPS would need to get more precise to avoid problems with it thinking you're in the wrong lane. Ex: You driving by a parking lot in a 45 MPH, suddenly the GPS thinks you're in the parking lot, not the road, and slows you down to 25 MPH, to the annoyance of the people behind you. I had a bit of trouble like that this weekend, with the GPS thinking I had already gone through the intersection, and giving goofy driving directions as a result. I'm not sure this is a fixable problem, because I'm not sure if it's a result of the deliberate futzing of the GPS signal, which might be enough to pick the wrong lane or two, or to take you from the highway to a country by road, causing tons of problems. Oh, and then there's need to compensate the police for the large drop in revenue as a result of no speeding tickets.

Re:Limitation (3, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226676)

They shouldnt be used for general law enforcement like speeding,etc..

When first implemented they'll say they won't be used except for accident investigation. Then over time, the use will expanded far beyond anything reasonable.

Look at the seat belt laws. When first implemented, the story was that a seat belt violation alone wouldn't result in being pulled over. Now, they will pull you over in a heartbeat if they spot you not wearing one.

Driving is a privilege, not a right (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226546)

The car is yours; the box is yours; the data is yours. You paid for it. No problem with that at all.
You can remove the black box all you like; hack it up; do whatever you want with it.
You can also put on cherry bombs, a nitrous tank, and racing slicks. Have at it. It's your property.

But--if you want to use the public roads, you have to follow certain rules.
License. Title. Insurance. Registration. Inspection. and so forth.
It's your choice; nobody's forcing you--use it on the roads or don't as you prefer.

Road pricing (3, Informative)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226558)

Here in the Netherlands, they've already been planning for something like this for some time. Not sure what the current status is on that though.
Anyway, the idea is that all cars will be equipped with some kind of GPS enabled device that records the movements of the car and reports this to big brother...err, I mean the tax administration. Based on how much you've driven your car and on what kind of roads and on what times your taxes are calculated. They say this system is a lot fairer than the current 'one tax level for all car owners' system. The idea is also to make the car owner responsible for the condition of the device and driving around with a disabled, modified or broken device is punishable with a fine. It's the govt's form of automated road pricing. I think it's a really, really bad idea.

Re:Road pricing (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226686)

It's the govt's form of automated road pricing. I think it's a really, really bad idea.

No, it is the government's way of introducing tracking everybody who drives, but you are correct, it is a really, really bad idea (if you value freedom).

Re:Road pricing (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226772)

Hopefully this proposal isn't the same. If the system being proposed is offline and only records a certain time period of information like the airplane black boxes do, then I don't see a real problem. GPS enabled tracking is something that I would never want to see.

Re:Road pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226798)

> Based on how much you've driven your car and on what kind of roads and on what times your taxes are calculated

We already have most of this. It's called a fuel tax.

Taxes (3, Informative)

Salo2112 (628590) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226560)

This will be used to track your mileage so you can be taxed that way. At least that is the ultimate goal. Masking it in safety will get it started, and I see a few sheep have already bitten that hook.

Re:Taxes (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226582)

What's wrong with taxing based on mileage? We already do it indirectly through gas taxes.

Re:Taxes (4, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226620)

What's wrong with taxing based on mileage? We already do it indirectly through gas taxes.

Actually, nothing's wrong with it any more than any other tax scheme - as long as the gas tax goes away first. Double taxation isn't right.

The other point is that there's already a "mileage tracking device" in the car called an "odometer". There's no need for a "black box" to collect a mileage tax.

Re:Taxes (1)

DirkDaring (91233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226820)

Oh no! Double taxation isn't right!

That will stop them from doing it!

Re:Taxes (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226830)

Calling it double taxation is the weirdest sort of mental judo.

Having X road revenues raised by taxing fuel and mileage is not so far different than having X road revenues raised by taxing fuel or mileage alone.

(and there are probably some nice arguments for both being more fairer than one of them alone)

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226630)

Like you said, you're already doing it. Why do the same thing with more cost, complexity and personal privacy issues?

Re:Taxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226648)

You just answered your own question: "We already do it indirectly through gas taxes."

But if you want to pay taxes on mileage multiple times over, I won't stop you from cutting a check to the proper government entity. Just don't make me do it too.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226680)

Gas taxes provide an extra incentive for better fuel efficiency and for lighter-weight vehicles that cause less road wear. Unless a mileage-based tax is scaled by vehicle weight and fuel efficiency, it wouldn't do that. It would also be more costly to administer (someone has to download that mileage data and do the calculation and billing) and be an easier system to corrupt (spoofing the mileage readings or somewhere else in the accounting system). Tying a road tax to the fuels purchased to use on the road makes a lot of sense compared to other systems.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226806)

Mileage tax is a classic give away to the trucking and oil companies, at the expense of the majority of the population who drive passenger cars.

Gas taxes hurt big oil companies as they drive common folk to drive more efficient cars and use less product. Big trucking companies wish to be subsidized by everyone else, even though heavy vehicles account for most of the wear and tear on the roads. These two groups are not insignificant lobbyists.

They don't feel it's fair that high mileage, hybrid, and electric cars don't pay as much gas tax, and thus less road tax.

Taken in isolation that might be true, but if you include the many many external costs built into the oil economy, the B.A.U. tax foisted on the rest of us dwarfs any discount the small cars get on the road tax. Simply put, our medium and long term interests as a country demand that there be an economic incentive to burn less oil. Call it a carbon tax, economic independence, or by any other name, it has to happen. We can't keep on going burning the Saudi's oil with China's money and fsking the planet in the process. It should be obvious from the last 10 years that this isn't sustainable, even in the short term.

Re:Taxes (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226636)

taxing based on miles is better than charging everyone road tax, and vehicle tax, and a tax on car purchase, and a tax on fuel, etc

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226684)

Says someone that doesn't have an electric car. ;)

Re:Taxes (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226832)

Differential tax rates depending on the vehicle..

for example,
a very simplistic formula based on car type and weight could be
car type(c) = 0 for electric, 1 for petrol, 2 for diesel
x=car weight in Kg
tax = (c*10+(x/1000)*10)%

Re:Taxes (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226748)

What makes you think those taxes are going to go away when they introduce the mileage tax? In the U.S., it was only in the last 10-15 years that they did away with the telephone tax that was passed to pay for the Spanish-American War (and then only because several radio personalities were using it as an example to drum up opposition to another tax they wanted to pass).

Re:Taxes (1)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226838)

No, it's not better unless it also takes into account the mass of the vehicle. Road wear increases with the cube of vehicle mass. A 5400 lbs Hummer causes 8x as much wear on the roadway as my 2700 lbs compact car. If we're taxing by miles driven, I demand to tax by the amount of wear caused during those miles. In which case, the Hummer can pay 8x taxes per mile.

We actually have a system in place that's more fair than tax by mileage. More massive vehicles require more energy to accelerate to speed (a result of physics) and typically need more energy to maintain speed (a result of styling). Through fuel taxes, we charge the more massive vehicles at a higher rate per mile driven-- as we should.

I don't know what is the paranoia about tax by miles driven. It would be a stupid and unfair tax. Perhaps people are concerned about wholesale surveillance. Well, you shouldn't be. Your movements are already tracked just fine through your mobile phone and other implements of the surveillance state. Why bother tracking a car when you want to track the driver and occupants?

Re:Taxes (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226724)

This will be used to track your mileage so you can be taxed that way.

No, they will introduce GPS devices in order to track you, using a mileage tax as the excuse. If the idea of a mileage tax was the goal, they would talk about doing periodic odometer readings. I have yet to hear anyone who is proposing a mileage tax suggest basing it on odometer readings. They all propose installing new GPS tracking devices in order to implement this new mileage tax. The obvious conclusion is that getting the GPS tracking devices installed in every car is the goal, not the mileage tax, since the mileage tax could be collected without any new devices being installed.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226752)

That's the thing that gets me - especially with Tea Party crowd - it's never about Freedom and Civil Liberties; it's always about taxes.

"Go ahead and search me for no cause at airports and train stations. No problem. But tax me more! NFW!!"

The tax issue is off my radar. It's the whole Big Brother thing and yes I do have somethings to hide and I bet you do too - you may not know it that's all.

Just another step... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226568)

...toward the surveillance society. Next they'll transmit information about your driving wirelessly. All in the name of safety, of course. Oh, and don't mind the camera on the lamppost outside your front door. It's time to remember that government works for US.

Re:Just another step... (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226650)

Yes, the other thing that'll be required is an in-car camera recording at all times. That way it'll be easy for the "friendly" state trooper to check if you're wearing your seat belt, or texting...or doing anything else illegal.

I wonder how much longer eating in your car will be allowed. It causes a lot of accidents, you know...

Re:Just another step... (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226710)

but make sure to switch off your camera when pulled overm recording the actions of the police is a crime, citizen

Re:Just another step... (1)

Karem Lore (649920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226740)

Welcome to the UK...well, for the cameras anyway: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article5834725.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

300 times a day...

Oh, and I know that this information is collected in squad cars and transmitted wirelessly every time the car docks at the station, both video and audio...

Good intentions. (0)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226570)

Bad consequences.

Motor Law (5, Interesting)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226574)

Looks like it's time to store away my red barchetta up at my brothers farm. Maybe someday my son will get to drive it.

Re:Motor Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226652)

...fifty-odd years later?..better hold off procreating for at least another three or four decades...

Re:Motor Law (3, Insightful)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226678)

Looks like it's time to store away my red barchetta up at my brothers farm. Maybe someday my son will get to drive it.

There is so much win here I cannot begin to express it. Bravo to you, Mr. Rush fan.

Re:Motor Law (1)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226734)

Only if he can elude the eyes and hop the turbine freight.

Automobilism (2)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226628)

Who wants to start a new religion proclaiming that our cars are part of our free-spirited self, and that tampering with them like this would be a direct violation of our commandments given to us by the Great Mechanic?

video? (1)

choko (44196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226670)

Will this box somehow record video data as well? Lots of accidents are caused by people running stop lights/signs. Better record the inside of the car too just to be sure the driver wasn't texting or anything. While they are at it, they should probably record audio data as well.
Seriously though, where does it end?

This is the beginning of the end (4, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226696)

I seriously doubt that it will be more than a year or two before some state allows you to be pulled over and the data pulled from this to write speeding tickets. And the amount of data they will contain will only increase, before long they'll be able to cite you for infractions from weeks ago. Soon it will be argued that GPS data will be needed too, so 1 MPH through a stop sign can be ticketed, too. They'll probably "need" to check it when you register or emission test your car.

Illegal to modify or remove? Why? Who would that harm, other than the police ability to fine you? It's a money grab, nothing else.

Why did we bail out the auto industry if we're going to kill new car sales a couple years down the line when new cars can convict you of speeding without an officer having to observe it?

if you have nothing to hide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226708)

This shouldn't bother you if you have nothing to hide.

Another thing to buy/break on a vehicle? (1)

PoderOmega (677170) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226722)

All horrible privacy issues aside, I'm not a big fan continuing to add expenses to vehicles. Airbags and safety systems are great, but is this really going add that much safety to a driver and passengers? We will have to pay for these black boxes when we buy the car, and what happens when the "black box" malfunctions? Does the car shutdown? When you get pulled over does the cop somehow check that the device is working and ticket you if it doesn't? I'm guessing the way it needs to be mounted and the eletronics won't make it a cheap device, but I could be wrong.

very good, iff done properly. (2, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226728)

this is something the judges in the court have long asked for. After an accident its difficult to establish howfar the accident was caused by the behavior of driver or circumstances - e.g. - did the driver go 150km/h for 6h without a break or did he feel compelled by somebody driving 1m to his rear end to go faster just at the location of the accident? I also think its ok to confiscate the record if the driver was caught speeding or stopped in a control because its suspected that he drove to long (a mechanical recorder to prevent speeding/going without a break is mandatory for trucks in Germany, and in general the experiences seem to be quite good).

What would *not* be ok would be any function where the police can ask "list all drivers who did this or that". There is no way to prevent this from being used to track people, e.g. by setting up a 50cm long speed regulated zone in the database to get all driver passing this point.

The mandatory things would be:

*encryption, where the keys are stored in a way that they can be only recomposed either from the owners/driver (the driver can e.g. insert an electronic license) keyring (to defend himself), or from several institutions agreeing and providing the key for a specific case.

*a legal framework which highly discourages institutions from even trying to abuse this data

*no network connection of the device. The memory should be a removable part, which is secured by a normal lock/seal. Implementations which do not contain the data only in this removable part should be forbidden.

*the only normally accessible interface should be a port used to set the currently used license (this is, downloading a public key from it).

Great idea (1)

pentadecagon (1926186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226736)

... if done The Right Way. But as usual, the people in charge all have their personal interests, which do not match The Right Way. So this will become yet another nuisance.

Unintentional Acceleration (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226766)

This was one thing that came to light when Toyota's very public troubles with unintentional acceleration surfaced last year. Yes, many vehicles have data recorders, but the kind of data collected is not standardized across makes, models, or model years. Furthermore, the quality and validity of the data is not assured (i.e., if the recorder says that the vehicle is traveling at 75 mph, how do we know that's true?), because the collection system hasn't been extensively tested and verified. Finally, the format of the data, and the electromechanical interface to access the data (i.e., what cable and software to use) is about as proprietary as they come. Think it was bad that every cell phone had to have their own unique wall wart with their own unique connector? That's nothing compared to automotive data recorders.

Personally, I think that this kind of data is invaluable: it leads to safer vehicles and provides critical answers to how and why an accident occurred. That might sound like it only benefits the government, law enforcement, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers, but consumers also benefit. If you are in an accident because some asshat was doing 80 mph, in the rain, without his headlights on, and was too distracted by his cellphone to hit the brakes before broadsiding you, a data recorder will help you stick it to him. Got rear ended, and think that the guy was riding your ass beforehand? A data recorder will show how long both your and his brakes were applied before impact. Think it was Toyota's fault that your corolla pegged 100 mph all on its own and ignored the brake? A proper data recorder would provide important proof one way or the other. But right now, because the technology is so scattershot, unverifiable, and open to interpretation, it is of only marginal use. In a court it's about as good as anecdote, rather than hard data. Having rules and open standards is the first step to improving this.

A proper data recorder, combined with an extensive testing and verification program, is a significant expense: one that a company isn't going to add to a vehicle unless mandated to do so. If we want this data to exist at all and be reliable (see above for why I think this is good), then a mandate and uniform standards is the way to make it happen. As for whose data it is exactly, and under what circumstances it can be accessed, that is a much more important debate to have. For while I am in favor of this information being available to all parties after an accident, I am not at all keen on letting Progressive Insurance install and monitor a tracking device [progressive.com] in my car in order to get cheaper insurance rates.

*puke* (4, Insightful)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226784)

Why don't they just shove a tracker up everyone's ass and call it a day?

Any different from a license plate? (1)

DirkDaring (91233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226794)

I've been wondering for some time now if license plates will become 'high tech'. What if they added this system into all license plates?

Plus, people are already complaining here that they would be mad if they can't remove something that is on their car that they own. Well you can't remove your license plate. How is requiring this any different?

I've no problem with it, to a degree (3, Interesting)

Tomahawk (1343) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226800)

Just like in an airplane, I think a black box device is a great idea. Far to many accidents occur with no witnesses that this will give an opportunity to work out what went wrong (why were there no skids, how fast were they going, where the bulbs in the headlights working).

For people who are safe drivers, again there is no problem. Yes, we all drive a bit over the speed limit all the time - part of the whole 'keeping your eyes on the road' thing we are expected to do means we can't drive permanently looking at the speedometer to ensure we don't just sneak over the limit. But many accidents are caused by drivers driving excessively over the limit, and if I'm involved in an accident with someone like that, I like the idea that I can point to my black box data and say 'see, I was 2km/h over the limit, whereas they were 45km/h over the limit'. It'll protect me and put the blame on those who were actually responsible.

Which means that they have to be tamper-proof or the just can't be admissible.

So, so long as they are used only in the purpose of an accident and proving fault, I have no problem with them.

In the case of a Big Brother type situation, there I _do_ have a problem.

But I'm try to remain optimistic that the Big Brother element won't be present.

Oh, also, I want to be able to read the data myself at any time! It would be a great way to learn about your own driving habits, what causes fuel use to go up, am I subconsciously sitting at a red light with my foot depressing the throttle, etc. With GPS, I can track everywhere I've been (but this does tend to imply Big Brother stuff, so no GPS please).

Store everything on the box, but only store a certain amount. If it's to be use for crash analysis, how much data is needed? An hour? A day? A week? more data allows an investigator to analyse driving patterns and behaviour ("this guy always speeds", or "this guy has no habit of speeding - did his foot slip?")

Typical City-Dweller Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226802)

The people posting in favor of this regulation and suggesting to take cabs, busses, subways, etc. clearly have no concept of rural, or even suburban, life. You know, that which the majority of the United States is? There's a big country outside your little utopian cities where it can be as much as 50 miles to get to the hardware store. And do you know who lives in these places? The people growing your food.

Big Brother (1)

benvec (100944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226804)

Enough Big Brother. They don't need to know where I go. This must be stopped.

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