Auto 'Black Boxes' Defended
The federal government should resist regulating the use of so-called "black boxes" in cars and light trucks that record driver behavior,experts said Nov. 19, according to the Detroit News.There are now 40 million vehicles equipped withdevices and sensors that record the speed, direction, location and other data at the time of a crash or accident, providing police agencies and insurance companies with valuable information, the News reported."These technologies are going to advance faster than the three years it takes to write federalregulations," Michael Haseltine, president of the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, told a panel sponsored by the Society of Automotive Analysts, according to the News.While the boxes, called event data recorders, are not yet in widespread use, the computer sensors that "decide" whether or not todeploy an air bag already record some very basic information, such as changes in speed, that police and insurance investigators are depending on to help prove fraud or other criminal activity among motorists."The insurance industry literally loses billions of dollars every year in fraudulent claims," said Kathy Konicki, director of safety at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "If we have sufficient data ... then we could take some pretty significant steps forward to start reducing fraud."But there are concerns the information may be used to harass some drivers or encroach consumer privacy rights, according to the News. "It won't be long before someone says you can't have access to my event data recorder because it is a violation of my Fifth Amendment rights," said Michael Khoury, a lawyer with Southfield, Mich., law firm Raymond & Prokop.