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What a Black Box Data Dump Looks Like

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the recording-for-posterity dept.

Transportation 643

An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray recently crashed his Ford Crown Victoria while reportedly traveling 108 mph. The car was pretty much shredded, but Murray walked away without major injuries. According to data from the car's black box, Murray and the Crown Vic experienced the equivalent of 40 gravities during the crash. The data contradicts the story he gave police. Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians."

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First to say (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611364)

Open source all that info

Advice (5, Interesting)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611366)

So, the first thing you should do after a car accident is to find and destroy its black box, so your insurance company would have no way to avoid paying the, what, insurance?

Re:Advice (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611448)

So, the first thing you should do after a car accident is to find and destroy its black box, so your insurance company would have no way to avoid paying the, what, insurance?

"The most interesting thing about the damage your vehicle suffered, is that the passenger compartment is largely intact, except for this little plastic box in the back of the glove box, which appears to have suffered severe physical trama at the end of a tire iron. I don't think we're going to honor your policy, sir."

Re:Advice (1, Redundant)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611674)

Shit happens, right? So you are not going to honor this contract? Fine, will meet you in the court room.

Re:Advice (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611758)

Insurance companies with staffed lawyers with evidence of insurance fraud.
vs.
You with a single lawyer who is probably charging you an arm and a leg, who is working to make sure you are not locked up for life.

Re:Advice (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611878)

For insurance fraud? That's going to do DA prosecuting, not insurance companies.

Re:Advice (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611770)

Temporary insanity. After bringing the car to a safe and complete stop of course.

Re:Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611488)

also put something in the seatbelt connector because it shows if your seatbelt was there or not for the driver and the passenger

Re:Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611588)

Many cars already monitor this for the driver.

Re:Advice (5, Funny)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611610)

The other end of the seat belt connector would be your best bet if you wish to survive the accident you seem to be planning for.

Re:Advice (3, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611642)

I know people who leave their seatbelt connected 24x7 and just sit on it. I don't ride with them.

Re:Advice (5, Informative)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611780)

I know people who get spare connectors from the junk yards and keep them plugged in so the car doesn't keep beeping at them about the seatbelt.

Why people go so far to avoid wearing a seat belt is beyond me.

Re:Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611542)

Go ahead, I'm pretty sure their lawyers will love to pounce on you. "Yo, InsuranceCo, so I was going exactly the speed limit; and to prove that, I have destroyed the data which would support this. Pay up!" Congratulations, now you're on the hook for reckless driving *and* insurance fraud.

Re:Advice (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611650)

You are missing the point. I DON'T have to say anything, or prove anything, It is my right to be silent and to not incriminate myself. It is their duty to prove me wrong. If they refuse to pay without reason/facts, then i will sue them. End of story.

Re:Advice (0)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611772)

And they will win. Have fun.

Re:Advice (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611800)

You are missing the point. I DON'T have to say anything, or prove anything, It is my right to be silent and to not incriminate myself. It is their duty to prove me wrong. If they refuse to pay without reason/facts, then i will sue them. End of story.

You're right. You don't need to say or prove anything when you make a claim. They also don't need to pay your claim. If you believe that they do need to pay your claim and you sue them, then you WILL have to testify and give evidence. A lawsuit is a civil case. It is not a criminal case. The right not to testify only applies to criminal cases.

Please enjoy getting to pay to have your ass handed to you.

Re:Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611806)

Rights to silence and avoiding self-incrimination have bugger all to do with the sort of civil case you're talking about bringing against your insurance company. Plus, as the plaintiff, I think the burden of proof is actually yours, no?

Quite relevant when you find yourself in criminal court charged with dangerous driving, though.

Re:Advice (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611834)

You are missing the point. I DON'T have to say anything, or prove anything, It is my right to be silent and to not incriminate myself.

The right to remain silent and not provide evidence against yourself applies only in criminal proceedings. (See, US Constitution, Amendment 5: "No person [...] shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself".)

Breach-of-contract is not a criminal case.

If they refuse to pay without reason/facts, then i will sue them. End of story.

And if you sue them, you will bear the burden of proving that the circumstances that actually occurred obligate them to pay you. And they can put you on the stand and compel you testify under oath, even where that might be against your own interests.

Re:Advice (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611794)

Or you could, you know, drive responsibly and treat your car like the potential deadly weapon that it is. So when the insurance company looks at the black box data, it matches your story.

As long as the data is read by an independent third party and made available to the driver (and his lawyer), the black box data shouldn't be something to fear.

Engineering (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611382)

Some luck was involved, but anything that and car that can handle a crash at 108mph ( a bazilion kph for those of you out of the US) is damn amazing. I love engineers. They have made our lives so much better and are so unappreciated.

Re:Engineering (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611474)

Yes, before engineers we only had to worry about having enough to maintain our health.

Now we spend all day chasing the dragon on ever bigger, faster and flashier toys, none of which we really need, and jobs which aren't automated and exported to countries with fewer worker protections (because it's OK to treat people badly while they produce stuff for you as long as it's done via a foreign government).

And driving is still the most dangerous activity a man routinely performs - an activity that now so many people need to perform just to survive.

No, fuck engineers. On the whole they have made the world far worse than it is.

Re:Engineering (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611482)

Engineers have done a lot less to make our lives safer than you'd imagine. Like the old saying goes, if you make something idiot proof, the world will make a better idiot. This one just happens to be an elected official (which should have been our first clue).

People just like to take risks [wikipedia.org] . The engineers have just made it possible for Darwin to have some more spectacular visuals.

Re:Engineering (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611616)

Any crash that can shred a Crown Victoria is likely to have been one hell of an impact. There's a reason nearly every police cruiser in North America was a Ford Crown Victoria for a long time - they're damn near indestructible. A friend of mine had one from when he was in high-school through about 10 years, and over 30 other people's cars destroying themselves against his car. (usually while it was parked, or stopped at a red light - his car was some kind of drunken idiot magnet or something.) The worse damage he ever had was a broken tail light, and some scratches in the paint. Most of the cars that hit his were write-offs. Any collision that can do what that picture shows to that car would have vaporized a Neon.

Re:Engineering (5, Insightful)

Binestar (28861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611630)

Examples like this are what I use to counter people who say regulation is horrible, free market should reign uncontrolled. Cars weren't and would not be this safe without regulation enforcing it.

Re:Engineering (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611814)

So in other words, you're an idiot that doesn't do any research on the products you buy. If people refuse to buy unsafe cars *gasp* then no businessman in his right mind would make them. Smarten up, dummy.

Re:Engineering (0, Troll)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611876)

Yea regulations, I get to pay extra for car and continue paying extra over its entire life in added fuel, because regulations require it be built to protect me from myself. Here's a crazy thought drive responsible, which includes not doing so while drunk or sleepy, and all that safety stuff would be less necessary.

If I want to take the risk I should be able to buy something made of light weight bicycle tube and nylon.

Re:Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611906)

We should be free to choose what car we drive, not forced to drive whatever the government dictates.

I drive a Morgan Roadster, which probably isn't very safe. As you can see you're pretty much dead if you flip the car:

http://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/carpages/roadster/roadster.html

Fortunately in the UK small car manufacturers are exempt from safety standards so the classic looks and low weight of the car can be maintained.

I'd much rather the free market provided me with a car that I want to drive rather than be forced to drive a safe car that I don't want. That's true of every aspect of my life, and I don't want the state reducing my freedom through regulation.

Re:Engineering (4, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611700)

Some luck was involved, but anything that and car that can handle a crash at 108mph ( a bazilion kph for those of you out of the US) is damn amazing. I love engineers. They have made our lives so much better and are so unappreciated.

108 mph is only around 174 km/h. I know Americans like "crusing", on big roads with low speeds, but on our highways people going over that are fairly common, despite the 130km/h limit.

More on topic: isn't it possible the data was wrong?

Re:Engineering (1, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611862)

For most cars After 80mph driving gets very difficult. A while back I hit 100 on my car (long stretch, downhill, straight, and I could see for miles, and no cars) and at that speeds it was difficult to make the minor changes to keep me straight on the road. The Average Driver in the average car shouldn't be going much past 80mph on even on a good road. The Autobahn in Germany is design for high speeds which makes going at such speeds much safer, compared to the average Highway in the US. Which is designed for lower speeds.

Re:Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611738)

[...] a crash at 108mph ( a bazilion kph for those of you out of the US) [...]

It's 174 km/h. Not even half a metric bazillion. :)

Re:Engineering (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611804)

A Chinese accordion [youtube.com] .

Re:Engineering (1)

SimplyGeek (1969734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611810)

"I love engineers. They have made our lives so much better and are so unappreciated."

The flip side to making cars safer is that over the year's they've also gotten lighter and more powerful. It's a game of cat and mouse between increasing (potentially deadly) performance and safety.

Thank the insurance companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611854)

Those are the people who drove engineering cars to crumple instead of the occupants.
It's cheaper in the long run to pay for a totaled vehicle than long-term medical costs of
the people inside.

Re:Engineering (2)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611900)

"I love engineers. They have made our lives so much better and are so unappreciated."

True, true. We may even give ours some leftovers from the next Sales luncheon.

blackboxes already in most 21st century vehicles (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611392)

They usually record less data for maintenance purposes than the kind the insurance companies are clamoring for. These limited datasets have been subpoenaed for auto accidents.

Re:blackboxes already in most 21st century vehicle (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611480)

They usually record less data for maintenance purposes than the kind the insurance companies are clamoring for.
These limited datasets have been subpoenaed for auto accidents.

How do they go about recording? I presume it's a loop in memory, which is only so many hours, or days capacity. My 3 year old car already has 115,000 miles on it. Some tale it could tell.

Re:blackboxes already in most 21st century vehicle (2)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611494)

They will ask Walmart for video footage to identify who bumped into your car and drove away.
At least that's what the insurance told my wife once...

Re:blackboxes already in most 21st century vehicle (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611592)

They will ask Walmart for video footage to identify who bumped into your car and drove away.
At least that's what the insurance told my wife once...

I need fore and aft GoPro cameras in my car - record my drives. What amazing things I could turn over to the CHP! The people passing on the shoulder, tailgating, yakking on phones. putting on make-up, shaving, picking noses...

Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611400)

If he was going that fast, he'd be dead. He didn't have a single scratch on him at the press conference. If the tires spin out on black ice, does the black box adjust for that? or would it just assume he's actually moving at the rate the tires are spinning?

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611428)

Accelerometers are cheap. A crash from that speed isn't necessarily lethal.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611446)

addition: And a person, if luck, could get away with it, with only bruises, many of which, internal and not visible.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611518)

But he wasn't buckled so he should have destroyed rib cage on his steering wheel and get a face full of windshield.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (3, Funny)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611658)

Again, wrong. I've seen cases where someone actually survived an accident with little injury from *not* wearing a seatbelt, where they'd have died if they didn't wear one. In the case I'm thinking of, the accident popped the windshield out, and they got jettisoned before the passenger cabin had deformed significantly.

Also, it's not the speed you were going, but the rate at which you change velocity (and the duration of that, at any given rate), that causes the damage. Even crashing, a light post will be different from a brick wall, which will differ from a tree, which will differ from a 50' diameter marshmallow.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611874)

Again, wrong. I've seen cases where someone actually survived an accident with little injury from *not* wearing a seatbelt, where they'd have died if they didn't wear one.

Did you mean... "...where they'd have died if they did wear one." ?

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611910)

If you create a 50' marshmallow (real and edible all the way thru) I volunteer to drive my car into it!

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611868)

Ever hear of airbags?

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611452)

The box has no accurate way to tell your spontaneous speed unless blondestar is recording your gps positions constantly (it may be) But it CAN use accelerometers to measure g-forces while it's recording time. g-forces over time between start of event and full stop can pretty accurately measure how fast you were going when you started to slow down, whether the slowdown was applying the brakes or hitting a tree. (this works as long as you end up stopped, which serves as the reference point)

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611464)

I take it more as an indication of how good the safety systems on modern vehicles are, he crashed at over 100mph with no seatbelt on, and basically the airbags and crumple zones saved his life. Twenty years ago this would have been a story about how he skidded on some black ice and died.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611632)

Yeah, advanced safety engineering has seriously interfered with sharpening the human gene pool, alas.

... an indication of how good the safety systems on modern vehicles are, he crashed at over 100mph with no seatbelt on, and basically the airbags and crumple zones saved his life.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611636)

I take it more as an indication of how good the safety systems on modern vehicles are, he crashed at over 100mph with no seatbelt on, and basically the airbags and crumple zones saved his life. Twenty years ago this would have been a story about how he skidded on some black ice and died.

This is a Crown Victoria, sir, one of the very last battleships of the road from the bygone era of 20 foot long, V8-powered, family cars. It's the one I often see driven by tiny little white-haired people - presumably because "Large" is the only car size they'll buy - which gives them that advantage of surviving to drive even more years, while you and I are a smear on the pave.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611820)

I take it more as an indication of how good the safety systems on modern vehicles are, he crashed at over 100mph with no seatbelt on, and basically the airbags and crumple zones saved his life. Twenty years ago this would have been a story about how he skidded on some black ice and died.

This is a Crown Victoria, sir, one of the very last battleships of the road from the bygone era of 20 foot long, V8-powered, family cars. It's the one I often see driven by tiny little white-haired people - presumably because "Large" is the only car size they'll buy - which gives them that advantage of surviving to drive even more years, while you and I are a smear on the pave.

Not exactly the last battleship. Now we have Suburban, Expedition, etc. They dwarf the Crown Victoria in size and weight. The survival rates in these SUV behemoths are also very good.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611496)

It depends on the car, I'd assume.

I've noticed that lower end cars use a mechanical/potentiometer system for speed sensing and recording that will only report the speed at which the tires are moving. My Mercedes only spun its tires a few times, but displayed a seemingly correct speed. (Maybe using non-drive wheels?)

The only "reliable" method would be via a GPS device where speed is a function of actual distance/time and not the behavior of any portion of the car.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611532)

Many people have walked away from 100+mph accidents with little injury. It takes some luck, but it definitely happens. Note also that he was in Crown Vic. Those things are fucking tanks, I'd bet the rock wall he crashed into was damaged as badly as the car. And to answer your actual question, I don't know explicitly for the car in question, but many black boxes contain accelerometers for precisely that reason.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611724)

I wonder if the momentum of the crash from that speed allows the car the flip fast enough where it actually reduces pressure on the crumple zone via the forward momentum. This of course would never apply to a head on collision, the car would still be pancaked, even at a 5 star level. This guy hit a rock wall, bounced off it and flipped to a stop.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611548)

“I understand that the vehicle accelerated rapidly without braking or turning in the seconds before the accident. The State Police have said that this is consistent with what happens when someone falls asleep at the wheel and I believe that is what caused my accident,”

I think he was just really lucky. Also, the data shows that he throttled up. While the speed might not be accurate, he definitely was accelerating hard right before the accident... not something you generally do while your tired are slipping on black ice.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611590)

If he was going that fast, he'd be dead.

Obviously not. The cage in modern vehicles is safe. His vehicle presumably had airbags. With modern safety systems, accidents are quite survivable. It is surprising he didn't have more obvious injuries since he was not wearing his seatbelt.

The article states the hypothesis is that he fell asleep at the wheel. The phenomena is much like drunk drivers -- when the person is relaxed they often escape an automobile accident with fewer injuries than an alert person that tenses up in during impact.

If the tires spin out on black ice, does the black box adjust for that? or would it just assume he's actually moving at the rate the tires are spinning?

In this case the condition of the car after the crash seems to confirm the recorded speed. If the vehicle has traction control it is likely data from spinning tires would be recorded.

Relying on black box data alone would be foolish. Considering the black box data in addition to other evidence may prove valuable.

Gas Pedal (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611646)

Yeah, it's hard to measure velocity exactly, but from the article it sounds like the increased tire spin was preceded by increased pressure on the accelerator. So the increased tire revolution rate was probably caused by him going faster, not a spin-out.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611660)

If the black box is directly measuring acceleration (actual G-forces) rather than drivetrain RPM, than it's already compensated for.

The 108 mph would be inferred from RPM, but it's hard to create 40G deceleration measured by an actual accelerometer in any way than an actual 40G deceleration. Maybe a temporary black hole?

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611722)

You can be surprised what you can get through without injury. My sister was in a crash that totaled her car. Flipped at least once, hit an embankment, speeding on an old dirt road, down hill, in winter. The only injury she received was to her feet from running to get help in her bare feet as she lost her shoes in the wreck.

She also hadn't been buckled in. Her car flipped at least once, like this. When her car quit sliding on its roof she was in the back of the vehicle, laying where her hatchback rear window used to be. Crazy dumb luck.

Like my sister, it doesn't look like the car came to a dead stop according to the article, and looking at the car it doesn't appear he hit the ledge dead on (or it was a small ledge). So it was a (relatively) glancing blow and did not cause a dead stop.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611838)

Even if the other comments don't hold true, you can tell if you hit ice and had tires spinning equivalent to 108 mph while doing 50 mph in reality by seeing the spike in speed from hitting the ice patch, given a long enough recording interval.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611844)

That is exactly the reason they did not want to release the data - it could be misinterpreted. As I remember, wheels speeding up due to hitting ice is the example they gave.

That said, and this is the first time I've seen a black box report so don't trust me, it looks like all delta-V was negative. If it were recording tire speed and it slipped on ice, we should have seen acceleration exceeding what the car is capable of. So either it happened before the recording, or it didn't happen.

Analysis of the crash scene is probably going to be more helpful here than the black box, I hope someone took pictures.

Re:Does the data reflect tires slipping on ice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611886)

So, survive a plane crash where the plane is totaled is completely impossible?

40 gravities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611416)

Don't you mean 40G (which is short for G-force). A gravity is not a unit of measure.

Re:40 gravities? (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611546)

And what do you think the G in G-force stands for?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-force [wikipedia.org]

1G is equivalent to Earth-normal gravity (an object at rest on the planetary surface). 40G is equivalent to 40 times Earth-normal gravities. Gravities is commonly used when discussing force related to multiples of Earth-normal gravity.

Re:40 gravities? (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611556)

*headdesk*
So G is short for "G-force" - well what's that short for? That's certainly not a unit of measure, but a scale. Anyway, "Big G" is a universal constant. You're probably thinking of small g, often used as a measure of acceleration, representing the acceleration due to gravity at earth's surface. And as 99.9999998% of us have only ever experienced this one gravity well, it's usually not considered necessary to say "Earth surface gravities" and so "gravities" is a perfectly acceptable synonym for this (somewhat vague) unit of measure, the symbol for which would be "g" (NOT "G").

Maybe we should... (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611420)

"... Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians."

Don't be foolish, they would explode from all the weaving, diving, bobbing, feints, corrections, double-backs and plowing through verbal feces (the black boxes, not the politicians.

Exploding (2)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611492)

"... Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians."

Don't be foolish, they would explode from all the weaving, diving, bobbing, feints, corrections, double-backs and plowing through verbal feces (the black boxes, not the politicians.

Exploding politicians would still be nice.

(At least, ones that explode if they do too much weaving, diving, bobbing, feints, corrections, double-backs and plowing through verbal feces.)

Re:Maybe we should... (2)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611594)

Politicians are kind of like Cockroaches.. In more ways than one...

Re:Maybe we should... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611622)

It's not necessary to do so to detect lies.

There's already a simple way to tell if a politician is lying... his lips move.

Re:Maybe we should... (1)

TigerPlish (174064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611802)

Don't be foolish, they would explode from all the weaving, diving, bobbing, feints, corrections, double-backs and plowing through verbal feces (the black boxes, not the politicians.

Back when the earth was still cooling, somewhere in Alabama, I was on a green light going through an intersection, when from the road perpendicular to mine came a huge Lincoln black sedan, a big one (but not a limo) doing about warp 3. All I saw was a huge black blur cross my bow a few feet from my little car's nose. As it passed, I saw the "STATE SENATE" license plate, or something like that -- an Alabama hi-level government plate. He'd ran his red light, and was going quite fast. I'd say a goodly 70-90 mph, on a street marked for 45.

Had that Lincoln plowed into my little '84 Rx-7 (first gen.. very light.. no door beams, no airbags, and it was at least 40% rust overall) he would've tore through me like a locomotive. It'd been a fatal t-bone. Good thing that little rustbucket actually had some brakes to go with the go. She stopped quick-like, among the smell of hot brake and burnt rubber (ok, so I locked 'em up a bit.. this is before ABS.)

I actually considered giving chase (things like that bring on the red haze.) Then I thought: "A car like that is likely to have MiBs with who knows what in their shoulder holsters.." so instead I went home and then the shakes began.

I think it's time we turn Big Brother loose on himself. Twit(ter) is kinda helping with that, so's Facebook and the almighty sms. I say we implant our politicos with chips that reveal to us when they go the local crackhouse, cathouse, or other houses of ill repute. It's only fair. They want into our daily life, we'd like to get into theirs. I bet it'd be far more entertaining and illuminating than watching whatever dreck is playing on the muggle box.

LONG LIVE BILL THE CAT! Ackthpt, you have got to have the best nick in this here place n.n Ye gods, how I miss Bloom Co.! Senator Bedfellow has nothing on the craptacular people we've put into office now. I wish Brethed would revive Bloom Co as a daily, with all the main characters. What fantastic fodder these past 10 years would've been!

Re:Maybe we should... (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611836)

Politicians should be strapped regularly and frequently.

I have a better idea... (5, Funny)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611438)

Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians.

Explosives would be far more beneficial to society in general...

Re:I have a better idea... (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611684)

Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians.

Explosives would be far more beneficial to society in general...

And probably result in the same amount of mess they make each time they do something "for the children" or for "your safety".

Driver's Belt Switch Circuit Status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611466)

Unbuckled.

Driver's Status: Moron

100mph and no seatbelt? (3, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611468)

I think they buried the lead here... 100mph, sans seat-belt, and he walked away? That's goddamn incredible. I've seen first hand what an accident at 170km/h looks like (on the Autobahn) and walking away seems basically impossible.

insurance liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611472)

I can see the insurance companies now: "Sorry Mr. Smith, but the speed limit is 60 and you were travelling at 61 so we are denying your claim."

He did not experience 40g's (4, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611476)

The black box is hard mounted to a solid part of the car. The black box and associated accelerometers stop hard.
A person in a seat, surround by air bags and wearing a seat belt does not stop nearly as hard.

Now if there had been no seat belt and no air bags .....

Re:He did not experience 40g's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611662)

He wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Re:He did not experience 40g's (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611696)

Also worth pointing out that the log shows 40 gravities was experienced for just under 1ms - even without airbags etc, he would only have been accelerated towards the windscreen at ~1 metre per second by this acceleration. Obviously this was only part of the overall incident, I just want to point out that the magnitude of an acceleration is only one factor, the duration is just as important.

Re:He did not experience 40g's (0)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611748)

He did not experience 40g's

The black box is hard mounted to a solid part of the car. The black box and associated accelerometers stop hard. A person in a seat, surround by air bags and wearing a seat belt does not stop nearly as hard.

Were you awake when you wrote that?

By your theory fighter pilots do not experience any g's because they do not smash into anything?!?

G-force is not a measure of deceleration. You can experience 40g's while smashing into a steering wheel, an airbag, or nothing at all.

Re:He did not experience 40g's (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611856)

Partly correct. The occupant most certainly did not sustain a deceleration anywhere near 40 g's. In the time frames we're talking about in auto crashes, absorbing that much energy is virtually universally fatal. One or more sensors on the vehicle did register that figure, so they were probably located on the part of the car that stopped "right now" on impact. Happily, that part of the car was probably one of several that absorbed enough energy that the unrestrained idiot driving the car didn't get smucked by other parts of the car when they stopped (or slowed down quickly) and he didn't. That the vehicle is described as "shredded" is telling as well. Those dramatic crashes, even end-over-end crashes, that take a long time to happen are typically much more survivable than those that involve most of the force arriving from a single vector in a short period of time. They look horrific but all that energy spent tearing up the outside of the car is energy that doesn't get to the occupants.
As for the speeds recorded. They are derived from the speedometer. Yes? Which is derived (through the transmission, in most cars) from the rotation of the drive wheels. If they were spinning because they broke traction, it's easy to make it look like the vehicle was going faster than it really was.

108? Typical /. bull (1, Informative)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611486)

The investigation showed Murray was driving 75 miles per hour in the seconds leading up to the crash, which occurred before dawn on a stretch of Interstate 190 in Sterling. But his foot fell harder on the car’s accelerator, increasing his speed to 108 miles per hour as he slid off the roadway and into a rock ledge, flipping twice. His speed was recorded at 92 miles per hour upon impact with the ledge.

Re:108? Typical /. bull (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611628)

That's not BS, the car was going 108 as it slid off the roadway.

Here's the BS:

Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray was driving 100 miles per hour, without a seat belt... The investigation showed Murray was driving 75 miles per hour in the seconds leading up to the crash... The posted speed limit in the area is 65 miles per hour, and the lieutenant governor had previously said that he had not been speeding and that he had been wearing a seat belt.

So he was speeding 10 mph over and he wasn't wearing a seat belt. That's exactly like "wearing a seat belt" if by "wearing" you mean "not at all wearing".

Re:108? Typical /. bull (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611634)

So he fell asleep. Could happen to anyone, only a story because this involves a politician. Wait, still not a story. Even if he lied about going the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt is stupid, true, but most people go at least 70 in a 65. 75 is quite common.

Re:108? Typical /. bull (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611698)

Even if he lied about going the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt is stupid, true, but most people go at least 70 in a 65. 75 is quite common.

Yeah, I totally hate it when people try to hold public officials to higher standards.

Thanks for ruining my country (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611812)

"So he fell asleep. Could happen to anyone, only a story because this involves a politician. Wait, still not a story. Even if he lied ..."

You are the epitome of exactly what is wrong with this country. All polticians lie, and that is perfectly acceptable behavior, eh? I wonder why they continue to lie to us ...

Not a great example of a data dump (4, Informative)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611550)

It seems, looking at the raw data, that while "40G's" is quoted by the summary, and words like "totalled" are used, the data recorded by the box only shows a 15MPH crash.

There is other dubious data - for example, the box sensors indicate that the box accelerated by 22MPH while the data was being retrieved - ie. while sitting on some investigators desk - seems unlikley!

The crash acceleration data itself contains some very high amplitude high frequency oscillations - with a frequency around 200Hz. These are much bigger than the crash itself. That could be vibrations going through the car after something goes "twang", but could even be the stereo bass turned up loud. These vibrations are where the "40g" comes from - the actual crash is more like 1 or 2 g.

Note however there may be more information that wasn't recorded.

Re:Not a great example of a data dump (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611672)

could even be the stereo bass turned up loud

Would accelerometers inside a sealed black box register anything from pressure waves coming from speakers? I don't really see why they would. I'm pretty sure that if I stick a Wiimote in front of my subwoofer and blast the bass it won't experience accelerations comparable to those experienced in a car slamming on the brakes.

Re:Not a great example of a data dump (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611826)

There is other dubious data - for example, the box sensors indicate that the box accelerated by 22MPH while the data was being retrieved - ie. while sitting on some investigators desk - seems unlikley!

Where do you see that?

The -22.67 MPH change happened while the algorithm that decides if and when to fire the airbags was running.

Disclaimer (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611576)

There's a disclaimer right there on page one:


Accident reconstructionists must be aware of the limitations of the data recorded... should compare the recorded data with the physical evidence...

Those disclaimers do mean things. The data was never intended to be used as a "black box"; That's purely media hyperbole comparing it to what's in an aircraft, which is designed to aid in accident reconstruction. The courts routinely dismiss GPS tracking data on phones used as evidence that the driver wasn't speeding because the device isn't meant to be used for that, and isn't precise enough anyway. An officer's radar gun, however, is.

That said... let us all look to the sky now and return to mumblings about conspiracies between or about the government and/or insurance companies.

Re:Disclaimer (1)

Eyeballs (64172) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611832)

The disclaimer also notes that the sensor _can't_ record anything higher than 40Gs (in section 3.2), so the actual G forces of the accident could be higher than mentioned in the article.

Re:Disclaimer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611860)

Exactly -- there is no need for "black boxes", because trained accident reconstructionists are still going to figure out exactly everything there is to know about the accident (insurance companies HIRE these guys) whether the vehicle is equipped with a black box or not.

All objects involved in the crash react in extremely predictable ways (based on the laws of physics), so velocity is easily determined from the physical evidence, such as the location of the parts that were blown off the car, skid marks (if any), physical damage all based on the weight of the vehicle (already known), and the velocity (what you are trying to determine). A black box will tell you some things that you can't determine from the physical evidence though (like what value was the second O2 sensor reporting at time of crash) -- but that is highly technical data and makes no difference to determining the actual speed/velocity at time of impact.

Black boxes sure would be handy for figuring out the "run-away" Toyota's that we all heard about a while back though. In those cases, we know the vehicles are flying like a bat out of hell, but the question is why? (stupid driver with peddle to the metal, or a fault in the car's design / programming / sensors).

Asleep @ the wheel... (1)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611608)

If he was indeed asleep (as TFA implies), then that could account for his (amazing) lack of injuries. Sort of how like drunk drivers are rarely injured due to their enhanced state of "relaxation."

Re:Asleep @ the wheel... (4, Interesting)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611740)

At a auto racing school I attended, the "If you know you're going to crash" advice was to cross your arms on your chest and go limp. A death grip on the steering wheel is a sure way to break your elbows.

Driving is not a right. (0)

Oshawapilot (1039614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611704)

Some people have forgotten that driving on public roads is a privilege, not a right.

Accordingly, if you do something stupid, you damn well deserve to be held accountable for it. The "OMG ONOZ THE INSURANCE COMPANIES SEE MY PRIVATE BLACK BOX DATA!!" freakouts shouldn't fly with anyone who has a basic sense of respect for the privilege.

Unpossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38611728)

People tend to not survive 40G. So if he walked away "unscathed" then that measurement cannot be taken as equivalently applying to his body.

The Strap-On treatment (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611774)

"Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians."

Strap on to them as they strap on to us [imdb.com] !

Re:The Strap-On treatment (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611884)

I was thinking more of

Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians.

and then run them over with a car going 108mph

40 g without major injuries? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611816)

Is he named Clark Kent? Guy should have become an astronaut, not a politician.

He was doing 75 and fell asleep (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38611880)

From TFA: He was doing 75mph in the seconds leading up to the crash, then accelerated to 108mph. This lead them to believe he probably fell asleep at the wheel. I sympathize, having lived in MA 75mph on the Pike is nothing (people drive far faster). Also having lived in MA I can sympathize with him falling asleep at the wheel. Massachusetts residents often drive while asleep or at least while dozing.
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