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Black boxes could become mandatory feature on motor vehicles

You may think that a “black box” device is a piece of equipment exclusively used by airplanes; but since 1999, certain motor vehicles have had black boxes installed to monitor the vehicle prior to an accident.

The black box reveals important information to car accident investigators as to how fast the vehicle was going, what kind of vehicle systems were being used in the build-up to the wreck, and if the vehicle decelerated at all before the collision. The black box can even tell if seat belts were being used by the driver and his or her passengers.

All of these things can prove very useful for victims of the accident. The evidence compiled by these black boxes can be presented in civil court and used as a basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

However, there are some important privacy concerns to consider here. Who has access to the black box information? If it is only used in the wake of an accident, then that would probably be for the best. But if the vehicle is constantly under surveillance, there would be serious violations to a person’s privacy.

Another problem related to information access is car insurance. If the information from a black box could be seen by a person’s insurer, could the company use that info to increase the person’s insurance rates?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to test the opponents and proponents of motor vehicle black boxes by seeking a rule that makes the recording device mandatory on new vehicles. No word on when the rule would take effect, but the NHTSA believes it could be a major safety breakthrough for the industry.

Source: AOL, “Black Boxes Could Soon Help Solve Car Accidents,” Dec. 10, 2012

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