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IEEE Building Automotive Black-Box Standard 364

Posted by michael
from the bent-out-of-shape dept.
An anonymous submitter writes: "According to EE Times, the IEEE is working to develop an automotive black-box standard similar to what airplanes have. Forget Acme Rent-A-Car in Connecticut - get ready to have your insurance company jack your rates for going over 65mph."
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IEEE Building Automotive Black-Box Standard

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  • Networked? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gehrehmee (16338) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:07PM (#3379566) Homepage
    Why on the internet? Even airplane black boxes don't appear to be hooked up for communication of any kind, otherwise people wouldn't be so concerned with finding them after a crash.

    Why can't this be a similarly autonomous data-gathering device? If there's any need for it outisde of crash data recovery, clearly there's a different purpose involved.
    • Re:Networked? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kbonin (58917) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:20PM (#3379627) Homepage
      Its not so much that they want them on the Internet, its that they want them to upload the buffer on response to certain criteria, and eventually the ability to remote query them.

      After that, its only a matter of time before the Patriot act [eff.org] is ammended to include access to this data...

      It should also be noted that if you check the fine print of your OnStar [onstar.com] paperwork, this capability already exists, with no significant privacy warrantees, including no promise to require any warrant to access the data. In fact, according to a broad interpretation of my paperwork, there's nothing to prevent any OnStar employee from calling into my car at any time and browsing data, including where I am via the integrated GPS, possibly even turning on the in-car microphone and listening in. If you think these capabilities don't exist, look up the 'in-car speakerphone' and 'unlock my car by telephone' (through call to OnStar, which then calls your car) features of the system...

    • The comment about "why should it be networked" is right on.

      There should be a variant of Murphy's law: if it CAN be abused, it WILL be.

      • Hmm... I've never heard that argument made in the context of Murphy's Law... this sounds like a potentially really effective way of describing the problems with things like the PATRIOT act, Holling's Bills... any various privacy concerns. I really like that, thanks.
    • Re:Networked? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by swordboy (472941) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @02:10PM (#3379837) Journal
      Why on the internet?

      Well,

      For one thing, automobiles can participate in a massive data acquisition if their control systems are allowed to communicate. For example, if there are many cars with ABS are having activations at a certain section of road (obtained with a GPS), then the data could be analyzed by a central computer that could send out a "slippery road warning warning" and possibly even dispatch a salt truck. This goes for *all sorts* of stuff from traffic congestion to potholes. They can all be detected with the sensors on most cars these days.

      I'm really looking for a standard but I'm afraid that Microsoft [com.com] is already pushing their goons into it. If Linux doesn't just quickly, then MS will tie their software into another piece of hardware with a "DirectCAR API" or something. This is big.

      Imagine that you pull into your garage and the bluetooth link (used to monitor tire pressure [go.com]) on your car's computer tells your home PC that it is time for an oil change. With an internet connection, your home PC could look up the closest oil change joints and find you an opening (and maybe a coupon). If Linux doesn't step in, then MS will have a piece of these kind of transactions. Not good (but very smart of them).
      • Oh.. and then my PC can tell my cell phone to remind me every 2 hours.. and my cell phone can tell the PDA.. which will print out "Hey idiot, get your oil change!" or more Jiffy Lube coupons.

        My toys are ganging up on me! Auuugh!
    • Re:Networked? (Score:3, Informative)

      Why on the internet? Even airplane black boxes don't appear to be hooked up for communication of any kind, otherwise people wouldn't be so concerned with finding them after a crash.

      There is usually fewer than one fatal airliner crash in the country per year, and hardly any others require analysis of the black box data.


      By contrast, there are tens of thousands of fatal car accidents per year, and hundreds of thousands of other accidents--the article said 6,000 per day.

      These boxes are only designed to hold a few seconds worth of data and the data is only saved and extracted after a crash. They don't keep your whole driving history and don't transmit it. I'm just astounded at the level of paranoia on Slashdot. When you have this kind of hysterical reaction to imagined problems, it undermines your credibility for real threats to personal privacy.

      • These boxes are only designed to hold a few seconds worth of data and the data is only saved and extracted after a crash. They don't keep your whole driving history and don't transmit it. I'm just astounded at the level of paranoia on Slashdot. When you have this kind of hysterical reaction to imagined problems, it undermines your credibility for real threats to personal privacy.

        What you're missing is that if they have a standard for them, it is easy to make them mandatory on all vehicles sold in the US. Then, they will "improve" the standard to make them record any "interesting" driving. Eventually, they will simply record everything; Where you went, and how fast, how you used the brakes, et cetera.

        And of course, it will be illegal to defeat them. And by that point, they'll KNOW if you defeated the device, because it will record everything.

        It's easy to say that this is simple paranoia, but this is the government. They feel that they're doing all of this for our good, which means that that gives them the right (in their way of thinking) to do anything necessary to protect us. It doesn't mean they WILL do everything we fear, but if you let them get their foot in the door, their leg will follow, and then the whole damn show.

        With that said; It's good that this technology exists. Those who wish to use it should have access to it. But I think government standards lead to law, and law leads to more law. In the end, the law becomes an end unto itself, and issues like privacy fall by the wayside. We've seen it happen in the government OVER and OVER again, and people like you STILL don't get it.

  • They can install one in my car...
    ...when they pry the steering wheel from my cold, dead hands.

    Seriously, though, in my state (and most others) insurance is mandatory. Now, suppose that in order to get insurance one needs to install this box. Suddenly, the box is mandatory, if not explicitly so...

    Once again, perhaps the best solution is a pair of wire cutters... until the state makes it illegal to tamper with these, like it is with odometers.
    • Insurance companies will not make it mandatory, they'll just make you pay through the nose not to have one installed.

      And it will be illegal to tamper with it, because you would be attempting to defraud the insurance company. No new laws needed. But it would lower rates for safe drivers. I think this may be a good thing, so long as there is no GPS data included.
  • Rampant Paranoia (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skroz (7870)

    Ah, what the hell... I've the karma to burn.

    Forget Acme Rent-A-Car in Connecticut - get ready to have your insurance company jack your rates for going over 65mph."

    This level of rampant paranoia cracks me up. To hell with the positive benefits of making cars safer in the long run... no, let's strap on our tinfoil hats and find the black lining. Watch out, michael! Casio has made a deal with the porno industry! They've put a chip in your wristwatch so they can measure your pulse rate and report back on what particular twisted fetishes get you off the most! Watch out! Booga booga booga!

    Freak.

    • by u01000101 (574295) <u01000101@yahoo.com> on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:19PM (#3379624) Homepage
      To hell with the positive benefits of making cars safer in the long run...

      I bet the black box won't help a bit to recover stolen cars... no sir, that's another department. It will surely monitor your driving habits and give the insurance companies more reasons to refuse to pay. It'll allow cops to trace you but won't help in pinpointing your position if you have an accident.

      It's not that I don't have my tinfoil hat, it something called *REALITY*. Try it some time - it'll change the way you see the world.
      • Like any good car nut a car thief knows where OnStar boxes are all located. They also know common locations of LoJack units. This black box will be easy to find too. Bring a screwdriver, wire clippers (or the less delicate hammer), and you've got the car you want.

        Also in understanding car thieves there are generally two types in every metro area. Parts scavengers who want parts of your car to sell and addicts who want a quick fix and sell the cars for a couple hundred bucks to a chop shop. The best way to hurt these folks is maintaining good security outside the car. For instance, a car locked in a closed garage is not going to be a primary target. There are much easier targets out there.

        As for accident forensics, that is well enough developed a science to not need a device like this.
      • ...as a paramedic:

        Roughly 50% of the accidents I work are Motor Vehicle Collisions. NOT Motor Vehicle Accidents - no such thing exists. Speed is the determining factor in the severity of the accident both to the person responsible for the collision and the innocent people they hit. If everyone followed the driving code to the letter of the law, collisions would not occur - and anything that helps my cop friends (I see them at every accident) better determine what each idiot was doing is a great idea. Also, consider the prevention capabilities - the black box sends a warning to the cops that such and such a car is weaving and speeding on such and such a road, and bam - they pull his drunken ass over before he kills someone.

        ...as a citizen:
        Ever yelled at someone who went through a red light or thru an intersection without stopping? Ever yelled at that asshole in front of you to get off of his cell phone?

        ...as a card-carrying member of the ACLU:
        I relish the privacy of my home. Driving on public streets, however, is in no way a private act. Each and every one of us in a car is weilding 3000 lbs (minimum) of momentum (speed dependent). That carries with it a significant amount of responsibility, which in turn carries a requisite amount of accountability. These black boxes would enforce that accountability. How is that a bad thing?

        It will surely monitor your driving habits and give the insurance companies more reasons to refuse to pay. It'll allow cops to trace you but won't help in pinpointing your position if you have an accident.

        If you were speeding and you had a collision, why should the insurance company pay? If you and I have policies with the same insurance company, it's my monthly payment that goes towards the money you get. Is that in any way fair? I follow the law, you break it, and you get my insurance money?

        It's not that I don't have my tinfoil hat, it something called *REALITY*. Try it some time - it'll change the way you see the world
    • I think it's really odd that nobody thinks of the real reason for auto black boxes: crash data. When John Q. Public's Miata explodes after a 5mph accident, and Mazda can't figure out why, black box data could make the difference.

      Another heads-up. There are black boxes in cars right now. My Trans Am has one. The XTerra I daily drive has one. Do they monitor speed and narc me out? No. Do keep track of that happens when the car is in an accident? Uh, yeah. 'Cause that's what they do. And that's all they do.

      LV
      • Another heads-up. There are black boxes in cars right now. My Trans Am has one. The XTerra I daily drive has one. Do they monitor speed and narc me out? No. Do keep track of that happens when the car is in an accident? Uh, yeah. 'Cause that's what they do. And that's all they do.

        That's because they're not ubiquitous, and the network effect hasn't made it worthwhile for the insurance "industry" to misuse them yet. Thus, your example is yet another misguided (or disingenuous?) attempt to prove a lack of ill intent on the part of insurers, and is incorrect.

    • I'm not really sure it's so paranoid to be concerned...

      Here's a scenario that is really off the way and probably totally unlikely, I present it just to stoke the fire of paranoia even further.

      Your car gets stolen because you were stupid and left your keys inside. The thief then proceeds to read the data from your black box, noting all the places you stopped... then goes to each place and ransacks what he can using your own keys to get in without trouble.

      Think of the fuss that would be raised if they made a movie showing some spy downloading data from the exisitng OnStar system in a car to determine where a secret hideout was!
  • I dont know about any of the other implications of this device but I would be extatic to replace the whole, 5-to-10-miles-over-is-sortof-accepted-by-the-cops- so-long-as-their-in-a-good-mood look at speed limits. If speeds cars were monitored every minute that you were driving the assholes that think they can handle their car going 90 down the turnpike would either stop or be arrested. and the rest of us could travel safely at 70-75 without worrying about getting a ticket for going 4 miles over teh speed limit.
    • by Sircus (16869) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:30PM (#3379660) Homepage
      You *can* drive safely at 90. Try visiting Germany (I'm English, but I live in Germany) for a fine practical demonstration. Most of the Autobahnen have no speed limit. I regularly drive 100-110mph and I'm regularly overtaken (by people with better cars). The annual likelihood of an American driver being involved in a fatal accident are 1 in 4,503. For a German driver, they're 1 in 6,676.

      People are that much more alert about changing lane, staying in the correct lane, etc., when there's a possibility there's a Mercedes in the lane they're changing to, travelling 50mph faster than they are.

      Most road traffic accidents (and an even higher proportion of fatal accidents) don't occur on motorways. In the normal case, you have a crash on a motorway, there's going to be a 10 or 20mph (or in Germany, say, 50mph) speed difference between the two cars. Have a head-on crash on a road with a 30mph speed limit, you've got a 60mph speed difference. It's the small local roads that need the attention, not the motorways/highways/turnpikes/autobahnen/pick-your- word.
      • You *can* drive safely at 90...for a fine practical demonstration.

        Or flip a few words to define the American side of things: driving safely at 90 for a practical demonstration of a fine.

        The accepted belief here is that a person cannot handle certain levels of kenetic energy and that the car will spin off like an electron out of orbit and crash into the nearest object into a fissionable reaction. People are taught here that anyone caught driving over 65 is considered unstable and should be a restricted element.
      • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:52PM (#3379750) Homepage Journal
        In Germany you actually have to be able to drive before being given a drivers license. Getting a driver's license there is a significant investment of time, energy and money.

        Here they'll give any nimrod who walks in the door a license. I used to live down in Florida and they always had horror stories like the one about the 86 year old lady who was legally blind and failed her driving test 26 times before finally managing to do well enough to get a license. You can't go flying down I95 at 90mph because someone like that will cut you off doing 45mph. Of course, that doesn't stop people from flying down I95 at 90mph...

        There are sections of interstate near my house where the average speed of traffic is 90-100 mph and those speeds are not intimidating as long as you've got a mile or so of visibility to see what traffic's doing ahead of you. Most of the drivers on the road here don't pay enough attention to be able to maintain such speeds safely. I don't think the ever-popular SUV will ever be safe at those speeds. Especially with the driver yacking on a cell phone.

        It would be easily possible to actually monitor and ticket every car on the road going over the speed limit but if that happened here in the states, the speed limits would be quickly raised or eliminated on the highways, since it'd piss off literally every driver in the country, and almost all those drivers are eligable to vote. Selective enforcement, while technically illegal, works fine for keeping most drivers to within 10-20 mph over the posted speed limits.

        The arbitrary nature of the speed limits are a pain in the ass though. I've been dinged for going 20 over the speed limit at 2 in the morning with no other cars on the road. And you can't argue that, even though road conditions were perfect for it. And I've seen people doing the posted speed limit in conditions where that was extremely dangerous. I'd like to see road conditions play more of a part, but I guess you can't trust many of the drivers on the road here to be able to judge them correctly.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        One thing about German drivers is that there is a lot of training involved, and that it can cost an exhorbinant amount of money in order to get a liscense, somewhere around $1,500 for the manditory classes, liscense fees, etc. IIRC. If your in an accident and loose your liscense, well, how many can afford $1,500 for a new one?

        Also, the cars in Germany have to meet perfomance requirements (have to stop within x feet at y mph, accelerate at a given rate, etc) on a yearly basis.

        These two things taken together generally imply a safer driving enviroment. You know that the car that is going 120 MPH is not going to fall apart on the highway, and that the driver probably has ton of driving experience at said 120MPH.

        Unless, of course, it's an american tourist who thinks that he can handle the speed, cause he watches all the NASCAR races on TV.
      • by Twiki (471742)
        I still don't get the left land lane drivers, who think they're not obligated to get the hell over when someone comes up behind them. If I'm faster than you, regardless of whether or not I'm speeding, GET OVER if it's safe to do so. You're obligated to do so. Otherwise, you're taking the law into your own hands, which is not a wise thing to do. It's these type of people that initiate Road Rage, not the ones who speed, at least in my opinion.

        This simple concept is just wasted on most people, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. I'm the type of driver who will go as fast as I feel comfortable driving, and I realize others have different thresholds for this that allow them to drive faster than me. They don't scare me in the least, and I have no intention of intimidating them or blocking them by staying in the left lane when they come up on me. I get over, unlike most other 'friendly' drivers you find on the road.

        Back to another point I was trying to make - it's not the 'law-breakers' that initiate Road Rage in my opinion, it's the 'normal' drivers. The people that seemed to get pissed are the ones who finally get over after you've been riding their ass for awhile, then when you pass them give you a dirty look, etc. Hey, buddy...you were SUPPOSED to get over when I came up on you. /I/ should be the one give /YOU/ the dirty look, not the other way around. Yes, I hate these types of people, but I don't do anything to intentionally aggravate them. And when I have a free lane I'm gone, out of their hair. They probably fume about it for a long time after I'm gone, too, but that's not my problem. They should learn to respect someone who wants to drive faster than them, not get aggravated at them. Chances are I'll be the one with the expensive ticket, not them.
        • They should learn to respect someone who wants to drive faster than them, not get aggravated at them. Chances are I'll be the one with the expensive ticket, not them.

          In 1996 [dot.gov], speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes, and 12,998 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes.

          Chances are you'll be the one who kills an innocent person, not them.

  • Unsettling (Score:3, Interesting)

    by piecewise (169377) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:14PM (#3379603) Journal
    Man... I don't know if this is what I want America to become.

    Are the police gonna tap into this? Wirelessly be able to find speeders? Everything's becoming so technical. "Well, the hot coffee was TOO hot, I want $200 million." "Well, my parents were segregated by racist whites... but I still call that this kid I see sometimes a 'white boy' or a 'cracker.' But I'm just kiddin' around, I'm sure it doesn't really bother him."

    I guess I'm just ranting about the details of society in general.

    But I really believe at some time we're going to have to ask outselves... how far is TOO far in what we do, and can we ever just let certain things go, even if it does giving up some profits?

    Nahhhhh...
    • Any system that would allow all speeders to be caught and fined would quickly be rejected by the government and the voters. Arbitrary enforcement is what keeps the current speed limits in place and the majority of drivers in line most of the time. A system where if you do speed, you do get fined would result in the raising or elimination of speed limits on many roads.
    • the hot coffee was TOO hot, I want $200 million

      I know this is a dramatic example of frivolous lawsuits in many peoples minds, but remember that most of the damages against mcdonalds were punitive. Mickey D's as a matter of policy kept their coffee at a temperature that they knew could be dangerous because it cut down on the number of refills they served to customers. Putting nickels and dimes before common sense personal safety is not ok.

  • Forget Acme Rent-A-Car in Connecticut - get ready to have your insurance company jack your rates for going over 65mph
    Give me a break. It's silly editorial comments like that make me wonder why I read slashdot, at times. :-)

    Are the blockboxes on airplanes to infringe upon the pilot's rights? Of course not, they're to analyze in the case of an accident, to help understand the problem, and improve safety for all. There are many undoubtedly many, many, many car accidents that could be prevented, by better crash analysis.

    If folks are so paranoid about being recorded, they should go live in a cabin on a mountaintop. Keeping a record of goings on is an aspect of society which is a good thing, and more of it is better, providing more safety and security. If you don't like it, go join another society. If you're *really* got that much to hide, the cabin on the mountaintop is probably best.

    Anybody who does use any such data for other uses will be "outed" so quick it will make your head spin; look at the rent-a-car fiasco.
  • by Merovign (557032) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:15PM (#3379608)

    Buy car. Buy Taser. Unplug unit. Apply 120,000 volts. Plug unit back in. Drive in privacy. (Ignore warning light optional.)

    Of course, if you hack it, even better.

    Personally, I'll stick to upgraded older cars. I prefer 5-points to airbags anyway.

  • paranoia (Score:2, Redundant)

    by osgeek (239988)
    get ready to have your insurance company jack your rates for going over 65mph

    The article didn't mention anything about information gathering for non-crash puposes, that I saw.

    Anyhow, if insurance rates do go up for speeders, they should correspondingly go down for those who abide the speed limit. Wouldn't that be the kind of rewards system we'd want to build into the process?
    • Re:paranoia (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gilroy (155262)
      Blockquoth the poster:

      Anyhow, if insurance rates do go up for speeders, they should correspondingly go down for those who abide the speed limit.

      They should. That doesn't mean they will... auto insurance, being a state-mandated service, is not exactly the model of capitalism one would hope.
  • by inburito (89603) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:17PM (#3379612)
    I doubt that they'll settle just for hiking your rates for driving too fast.

    Heck, they might even go as far as to limit their liability if black box indicates that you were driving too fast at the time of accident - or prior to it. Or deny further coverage based on this etc..

    Imagine sensors tracking your head or the usage of radio buttons or wether you used the turn signal. What about that stop sign before the intersection..

    Yes it sounds like insurance company's heaven and a regular driver's nightmare.. Especially if it goes to that failure to follow traffic regulations limits insurance companies liability.
    • What's really silly about it is that the REASON we have car insurance is that we all do dumb things now and then, get distracted, etc. If they eliminate all insurance liability for driving mistakes that lead to accidents, what's the point in insurance in the first place? Either you're always going to drive perfectly, in which case the only accidents you get into are the fault of someone else -- or whenever you are the cause of an accident, you'll be up sh*t creek because the insurance company will find some way of getting out of paying up.
      • If they eliminate all insurance liability for driving mistakes that lead to accidents, what's the point in insurance in the first place?

        Under the present system people who are at fault in an accident are still covered by their policy. However, their rates go up after the accident. Presumably, under a black box system, unsafe drivers would still be covered. They would just pay higher premiums. In effect, the penalty for unsafe driving would be paid before the accident, rather than afterwards.

        Such a system might actually encourage safer driving. Drivers would receive a financial benefit for obeying the law even when they mistakenly think the risk of an accident is low.

        • There is an unsubstanciated assumption in your comment that driving safely is contingent on driving legally.

          If everybody drove legally, and all roads were in good condition, this would be true, however, if somebody drifts into your lane, and the only way to avoid being hit is an illegal lane change, is your priority to follow the law, or drive safely?

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:19PM (#3379623) Journal
    Connecticut, where the car rental company tried to collect fines for GPS enabled cars exceeding the speed limt, well, they sided on the side of the consumer.

    Story here http://news.com.com/2100-1040-269388.html [com.com]

    "We alleged they have violated Connecticut law," the Department of Consumer Protection's commissioner, James T. Fleming, said. "There is no legal ability for them to charge a penalty when there has been no damage." This was in Conneticut.

  • by AJWM (19027)
    Around here if you're only doing 65 you're likely to get ticketed for impeding traffic.

    Well, not quite, but the legal limit is 75 on the interstates here (Colorado) outside the city. And there was some discussion about getting tough with drivers who drive under the limit in the left lane.
    • Impeding traffic in ANY lane should be ticketed just as heavily as speeding should. Think about it, if I am going 65 in a 55 and you are in front of me, I am coming up on you at 10mph faster. If I am going 55 in a 55 and you are in front of me going 45, I am STILL coming up on you 10mph faster. The situation is just as dangerous.
      More dangerous if you want to get picky because there is a slightly smaller percentage difference between 55 and 65 than there is between 55 and 45.
      I just wish the cops would realize this and either leave the speeders along or pick on the idiots running 40 in a 55!
      • No argument from me about that.

        Actually if I recall correctly, there was actually a proposal to have the cops ticket people going the speed limit in the left lane if the flow of traffic overall was at a higher (and technically illegal) speed. That suggestion was shot down, but did get some popular support.
        • I seem to recall a story about two guys who drove down the Don Valley Parkway (4 lane highway connecting Downtown Toronto to the suburbs) side-by-side at the speed limit (90km/h). They were ticketed for obstructing traffic. I guess you just can't win.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        Impeding traffic in ANY lane should be ticketed just as heavily as speeding should. Think about it, if I am going 65 in a 55 and you are in front of me, I am coming up on you at 10mph faster. If I am going 55 in a 55 and you are in front of me going 45, I am STILL coming up on you 10mph faster.

        The situation might be as dangerous but they are not equivalent. In the first, you are breaking the law as you approach someone obeying it. Why should that person be held responsible for your breaking the law? If "impeding traffic" were enough by itself, then that allows the most aggressive idiot -- the guy who needs to go 90 mph in a school zone -- to set the limit for everyone else, since eventually he'll overtake (= be impeded by) anyone going slower.


        Now, the guy doing 45 on a 55 road is also causing trouble, even for the people going the speed limit. Which points out that "speed limit" is a dumb concept. There should be a "speed range" (50 to 60 mph, for example).

        • I didn't mean to imply that the guy going 55 in a 55 should get in trouble because I am going 65. Merely that the guy going 45 in a 55 should get in just as much trouble as a guy going 65. Both of them are 10mph off the speed limit. As such both of them are putting the other drivers in a situation that is going to cause one driver to come up on another driver at 10mph faster.
      • I have to disagree with you, I feel impeding traffic in the RIGHT lane (or the slow lane in regions where slow != right) should in general be acceptable.

        This should be the case for a few reasons: for saftey reasons, certain classes of vehicles (big trucks) have lower speed limits than others (passenger vehicles), so they have to impede traffic in order to drive safely (i don't know about you, but i don't want big rigs driving 90 mph); mechanical issues can sometimes limit speed to some maximum, that is within reasonable speeds for a road, but may not be what others are driving at, so the driver should move to the right lane, and depending on their destination, and severity of the mechanical issues may need to stay in the right lane for a while.

        I do think that in addition to maximum speed limits, minimum speed limits need to be posted, and enforced, and certainly slower traffic should stay to the right, unless theres a reason (such as an offramp) for them to be on the left.

        • I can agree with that, schoolbuses are limited to about 45mph, and despite being very annoying that is to insure the safety of our children. Mack trucks however are often the fastest things on the road! I'm not saying I'm comfortable with that, just that those guys seem like the worst speed limit breakers.
          I think it should probably go by what is the safest operating speed. I school bus going 55 in a 55 should be brought under suspicion. I mack truck going 85 in a 75 should be more harshly punished than a car doing the same. Some would call this unfair, but a commercial drivers license should bring with it more responsibility, as should being allowed to drive such a large, potentially destructive vehicle.
  • Wrong Impression! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lkaos (187507) <anthony@NOsPam.codemonkey.ws> on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:20PM (#3379630) Homepage Journal
    I heard about this about 6 months ago being experimented with in Europe. It's a wonderful idea, especially in New Jersey which has the highest car insurance rate of probably anywhere.

    The way it worked in this test program was a small monitor would gauge your speed (now that I think about it, another monitor guaging breaking habits could also be useful) such that if you were obeying the speed limits, you would get a discount on your insurance.

    Insurance companies want to base rates on potential of accidents, and therefore, currently use statistics to determine rates. This means that I have an extrordinarily high insurance rate even though I'm a good driver simply because of my age and gender.

    The idea isn't to fine people automatically (like in Demolition Man) but to reward people for good driving habits. The real piece of technology that needed improvement was GPS -> speed limit mapping, once that is perfected, I personally can't wait to sign up for this type of program.
    • Re:Wrong Impression! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tbo (35008) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:40PM (#3379704) Journal
      The way it worked in this test program was a small monitor would gauge your speed (now that I think about it, another monitor guaging breaking habits could also be useful) such that if you were obeying the speed limits, you would get a discount on your insurance.

      What a fucking moron you are. I bet you think it's great when pizza places offer free delivery, but a discount on pick-up orders. Don't you see there's no difference between offering a discount to those who choose option X (and of course raising prices overall), versus penalizing those who choose Y, without raising prices.

      Also, basing insurance pricing on driving speed is only slightly less unfair than basing it on age and gender. Consider two drivers:

      Driver A is a professional race-car driver, and, when he's driving his personal car (which is probably very well maintained, and chosen for optimal handling), he tends to go 5-10 mph over the limit.

      Driver B is an octagenarian with mild Parkinson's, and a car almost as old as he is. He tends to drive 5 mph below the limit.

      Who's safer? Who would you rather have on the road? Driver A has amazing reflexes, excellent situational awareness, and a well-handling car with good brakes. Driver B's reaction times are probably four times longer, and he probably can't remember the last time he had his brakes done.

      This is, of course, an extreme example, but I think it illustrates how ridiculous it is to use an automated device collecting only one or two statistics to decide insurance rates.

      A more moderate example:
      When weather and traffic conditions are good, and the road allows good visibility (no blind corners, etc.), I tend to drive a little over the speed limit. When conditions are bad, I slow down significantly. Contrast this with people who always drive the speed limit, even when the road is wet or icy, and you'll see that my driving habits are a lot safer.
      • Yes, you are largely correct, however, I find that it is preferable on the freeway if everyone is driving the same speed. Then there are fewer lane changes and far less risk of colisions. Lane changes are probally the highest risk of accidents on the freeway, so any measures which help keep that asshole who likes to drive 90 while everyone else is going 70 and the other asshole who drives the speed limit while everyone else is going 90 from deviating from the speed of the trafic flow would be much more valuable. Yes, reaction time is important, but I think that risk of collisions is far more important to minimize.
      • I used to work for an insurance company, the rates make sense if you think about it. Young people (20-40) might have few accidents, but when they do, they make it count. Older people have more accidents, but at much slower speed and less damage. (This of course is just statistical averages, yes there are always cases, but insurance plays the averages)
      • What a fucking moron you are.

        You obviously don't know what kind of a problem insurance is in New Jersey. I have never gotten a moving violation, have good grades, and have never gotten into an accident. Since I have only been driving for 3 years, am male, and am under 25, I pay twice as much for insurance than a 26 year old female regardless of how well or poorly we each drive.

        Your senarios are not the norm, they are exceptions. With opt-in speed checking, at least the insurance companies give me a means to prove, and be rewarded, for good driving.

        It's really simple, I would be a more considerate driver if it meant I could save $1,000 dollars a year on insurance. If I only had to go 65 mph on the expressway instead of 75 mph, well, that's fine by me.

        I'm sorry, but I do not understand how you can say that it isn't fair to charge drivers who are more dangerous more money for insurance.

        Note that that is why I suggested having something monitor the braking habits too. Someone who is constantly slamming on the breaks and accelerating fast obviously has a higher risk of getting into an accident.
      • You can hypothesise about it all you like. The reason the insurance companies offer something like this is probably be because there's a statistical link between not speeding and having a lower rate of accidents.

        If there wasn't, they wouldn't offer the discount.
    • GPS and Speed Limit Mapping is the biggest crock I've ever heard.

      Did you know that GPS has a drift built in. Your position could be x and 10 seconds later be x+35 feet. If you're traveling at the speed limit that 35 foot drift could put you over the limit.

      Also how can the Speed Limit Mapping tell if you're going 65 MPH on a highway or 35 MPH over the limit on the rural road running along the highway?

      I had GPS on my sailboat. I never saw it work properly. I waited 2 hours once for it to lock into enough satellites to tell me I was in the Phillapines when I really was in Boston Harbor.

      • Blockquoth the poster:

        Also how can the Speed Limit Mapping tell if you're going 65 MPH on a highway or 35 MPH over the limit on the rural road running along the highway?

        Um, by coordinating the positional information with a database of the roads in the United States? You see, we have these neat little gizmos -- I don't think the name will catch on, but some people call them "computers" -- that are just insanely great at correlating different bits of information, both from real-time sensors and from premapped databases...


        If it talks to the Net, or talks to anything that talks to the Net, then it potentially has access to a vast store of statutory and physical data. Stop thinking like it's the 1950s.


        • Um, by coordinating the positional information with a database of the roads in the United States? You see, we have these neat little gizmos -- I don't think the name will catch on, but some people call them "computers" -- that are just insanely great at correlating different bits of information, both from real-time sensors and from premapped databases...


          The problem the original poster was pointing out is that there are a lot of places, particularly in the Northeastern US where a local road (with a speed limit of 40MPH) runs parallel to an interstate highway (with a speed limit of 65MPH). They often run parallel for several miles, and sometime are even within 50~60 feet of each other for long stretches. With the known innacuracies of GPS, you could be travelling at 55MPH in the right lane of the interstate and register to the insurance company as going 15MPH above the speed limit on the road that's running parallel.

          -Jason
      • I agree with your point about the GPS inaccuracy, and I also agree with other posters about how determining insurance based on speed is a terrible idea (I would sell stock in any company that tried based on them using inaccurate figures to set rates).

        However, the point about knowing what the speed limit is - since it has a GPS signal, I assume that ties you to a road and the insureance company would set up a mapping from roads to speed limits based on position. I wonder if such data already exists, surely the states already have such a database?

        As for myself, I would be more than happy to sign up for such a discount and then apply the "taser upgrade" another poster mentioned. I figure it would take them ages to figure out it was broken, and you could still collect insureance if you got in an accident (vs. no insurance for you if you just leave it at home!). Probably though they would be very unhappy if they found it was broken and give you trouble if you tried to collect... so better just to forget about having one.
        • Build your own database of the roads you drive on, mark off with the GPS the start, end of any given speed limit. (You could also do this by actually following the speed limit, the GPS will record you track and speed; it isn't perfect since it filters speeds to be usefull, but quite adaquate for most roads).

          I've considered hooking up 3 LEDs. A green, a Yellow and a Red, indicating the current speed related to the posted speed. Personally I'd set the Yellow to be the speed limit + margin of about 10%... GPS is accurate enough, and around here you won't get a ticket for doing 110km/h in a 100/km/h zone.
    • Re:Wrong Impression! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AstynaxX (217139)
      The idea of signing up for this willingly boggles my mind. You mean to tell me that you -never-, not -once-, end up going a few miles over the posted speed limits? Sorry, no one is that perfect. Beyond that, going over the limit -is- allowable under very limited circumstances [like passing a car you belive to be a danger]. Beyond that, it is a fact that most roads [with the exception of very old ones] are designed to support speeds 5-15 mph higher than the posted limit [if you don't believe me, try it out. Get on any Interstate when traffic is fairly light, observe the limit, add 10 mph and drive at that speed. 99% of the time, it will feel natural and safe. Now speed up another 10 mph. Feels a bit unstable doesn't it?]. Most times, speed limits have nothing to do with the actual speed the road can be driven upon safely, they have to do with zoning [oops, residential. The road is 4 lanes and straight as an arrow, but the speed limit is still 25 mph], studies on gas mileage/emissions [this is where the old 55 mph mandate came from], or the simple desire of a locality to bring in revenue by deliberately lowering limits to a speed that is near maddening [see the accounts of a few Florida towns].

      Oh, BTW, if you honestly believe the insurance companies will lower anybody's rates because of this, I have a bridge to sell you.
      • You mean to tell me that you -never-, not -once-, end up going a few miles over the posted speed limits?

        Cops will give you +-5MPH. Here in Va, they really don't start pulling until you're 10 over, unless you look "shady."

        Beyond that, it is a fact that most roads [with the exception of very old ones] are designed to support speeds 5-15 mph higher than the posted limit

        You have gotta be a CS major, because had you majored in engineering, you would have heard of this thing called "factor of safety." You see, you determine what is safe, then you stay inside that limit a little bit. That way, when you are still inside that limit, and the sun blinds you temporarily, or an insect files into your car and momentarily distracts you, you are still SAFE. Yeah, that guy who set the speed limit on that road you are driving on majored in Civil Engineering, but that doesn't mean he's an idiot.
    • The way it worked in this test program was a small monitor would gauge your speed (now that I think about it, another monitor guaging breaking habits could also be useful) such that if you were obeying the speed limits, you would get a discount on your insurance.

      Show me even a corelation between increased speed and increased accidents. I have never seen such statistics. Accidents aren't caused by speed, they're caused by other behavior.

      Don't give me the x% where x is greater then 50 of accidents involve a car going over the speed limit stat, because that statistic doesn't take into account that y% of people speed where y is > x. As far as I'm concerned that statistic is an arguement for raising speed limits.

      The idea isn't to fine people automatically (like in Demolition Man) but to reward people for good driving habits

      Then explain to me why your insurance rates go up if you get rear ended at a stop light, or if you get into an accident due to a mechanical failure in a car that can be proven diligently maintained. It's a crock. The insurance industry is highly and non-uniformly regulated, and it causes them to charge you as much as they can legaly get away with. The only possible thing this device could cause is increases in insurance rates, since once you've been driving for 6 years with a clean record you have the lowes possible rates. With this box it's just easier to tarnish your record.
      • Then explain to me why your insurance rates go up if you get rear ended at a stop light,

        I don't know what state you're talking about but thankfully here in Massachusetts if you didn't cause the accident you don't get surcharges next year. I don't like the point system we use but thankfully it does limit the insurance agencies ability to get away with charging the victim.

        I hope I don't sound like I'm trolling but really where do you get charged for getting rear ended at a stoplight? I'd like to know so I can avoid living in that state.

        • I hope I don't sound like I'm trolling but really where do you get charged for getting rear ended at a stoplight? I'd like to know so I can avoid living in that state.

          Good luck.

          AFAIK, insurance companies in every state may offer discounts to people who never file claims. If you go 10 or 20 years without filing a claim, you get lower rates than the guy who was unlucky enough to be rear-ended by an uninsured motorist (or even potentially by any motorist, if they count claims filed against other policies). Giving discounts for filing no claims is congruent to charging higher rates to people who have been in accidents where they were not at fault.

          The points system is all about setting a level at which the state may take away your license - I guarantee if you get a speeding ticket and go to traffic school to avoid the points on your license, your insurance rates will still go up. It does not restrain what insurance companies may charge.

          -Isaac

          • - I guarantee if you get a speeding ticket and go to traffic school to avoid the points on your license, your insurance rates will still go up. It does not restrain what insurance companies may charge.

            In Mass the rates are set by the state based on the point system, age of driver, sex of driver and length of driving experince. If you get the points off your record you don't pay for the ticket.

  • Black Box? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snarkh (118018) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:21PM (#3379634)
    Investigators in protective gear pick through a pile of smoking, twisted metal for clues to the crash. One reaches down, pries back some steel and pulls the black box from the wreckage.

    These boxes are in fact orange!

  • Some already have it (Score:5, Informative)

    by alanjstr (131045) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:24PM (#3379640) Homepage
    "Eleven of the 45 companies that build passenger cars worldwide already use some kind of black-box technology, according to representatives of the IEEE. The best-known of those is General Motors Corp., which said three years ago that it includes the device, known as a sensing and diagnostics module, as part of its airbag sensing systems on most GM vehicles. The module can store such information as engine speed, vehicle speed, airbag deployment, seat belt deployment and the state of the brakes before and during an accident. "

    Its just not a standard yet.

  • This idea of putting something similar to black boxes in cars is nothing new. CART has started putting crash analyzers in cars. CART has been doing it for a couple of years (They call them "Blue Boxes" because they're made of blue aluminum and are from Ford), and NASCAR has been talking about them since the accident with Dale Earnhardt. They use it to make our passenger cars safer. If this does come to the consumer market, I can assume that this is the only reason it would be used for. The only thing I can see that would screw this up is the amount of time it takes to analyze the data. If they can make the time it takes really fast, then it could be used to put the blame on accidents and disperse tickets accordingly.
  • Just what we need: one more piece of crap to add cost, weight, and take up space. Benefits for insurers, law enforcement, just about everyone except the poor fool who has to pay for it.
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      Benefits for insurers, law enforcement, just about everyone except the poor fool who has to pay for it.

      Yeah. It ticks me off they have these on airplanes. I mean, the extra weight has got to add maybe a whole dollar to my ticket price, and I certainly don't plan to be involved in a crash, so how do I benefit?
  • The information might be useful for analyzing the survivability of some crashes and using that information in later design, but as far as establishing cause or liability, it is less useful.

    Oh sure, the speed and braking info helps some, but without some sort of record of the external environment, you don't get the whole picture. Consider a collision resulting from somebody running a red light -- with no reliable third party witnesses. Data would likely show both vehicles at normal speed -- which driver didn't see the light?

    Or a multi-car pileup in sudden white-out conditions -- which happened to me on an otherwise clear, sunny day when a sudden gust of wind blew snow from a field beside the road across the highway, reducing visibility instantly to zero (and unfortunately, somebody decided to slow down at a rate faster than those behind him). By the time the cops showed up, it was a clear, sunny day again.

    Or driving at or below the legal limit, but "too fast for conditions" (fog, slick roads, etc) where the conditions are transient (as the above scenario).

    Why not just mandate installing video cameras looking over the driver's shoulder?
  • by jrp2 (458093) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:34PM (#3379683) Homepage
    This was done secretly a while back by the NTSB. While studying the data they noticed something intersting. In almost all states an average of 86.7% of the driver's last words before an accident were "OH SHIT". The only exception was Tennessee where in 63.2% of the accidents the last words were "Hey Bubba, watch this" ;)

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • by Decimal (154606) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:40PM (#3379706) Homepage Journal
    Hey, I've found a neat way to avoid getting speeding tickets. Here's how it works. It turns out that on almost any public road there will occassionally be little white signs on the side that have a number on them. There's also this little indicator behind the steering wheel that has its own number that goes up or down depending on how hard you push the gas pedal.

    Now here's the trick: If you make sure the number on this "speedometer" doesn't exceed the numbers on these "speed limit" signs, you can cruise right on past the cops and they don't even seem to notice you! Just leave a few minutes earlier and you can get to where you're going on time without anybody stopping you to harass you about your velocity. Works like a charm!

    Psst, don't tell too many people. The cops might start to catch on that we've found a way to avoid them. Heh, those suckers.

    /attempt at humor>
  • by Moderation abuser (184013) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:42PM (#3379712)
    I admit it. I speed every day. Yes, that's *every* single day that I use the roads. 99% of other road users do exactly the same and you know what?

    The roads are safer than houses. In the UK, you have more chance of being killed by an accident in your home than you have on the roads. Don't believe me? 4000 people killed in accidents in the home in 2000 and 3,500 killed on the roads.

    Speeding is only targeted because speed is easy to measure. That's it. It's a cop out. The fastest roads (the motorways) are also by far the safest roads.

    The vast majority of accidents occur in urban roads with a 30 limit at a junction and *don't* involve speeding. They are caused by lack of observation. "Sorry Mate I Didn't See You".

    Putting black boxes into vehicles isn't in any way going to improve driver observation.

    What just might improve road safety? Compulsory driving tests after an accident or compulsory advanced motorist training might just make a difference.

    • Blockquoth the poster:

      4000 people killed in accidents in the home in 2000 and 3,500 killed on the roads.

      Oh, come on. On any given day, there are far more people in homes than on the roads (since not every can or has to drive, but everyone lives somewhere). And on any given day, the typical person spends far more time in his/her home than in his/her car. Yet the difference in numbers is only 500? Why are the cars so fratzen dangerous, is what I want to know.


      I recognize the privacy issues and goodness knows, they should be addressed. But isn't it time for us to recognize that the only part of the driving system that has not improved in a century is the driver? Why the heck don't we have cars driving themselves and using state-of-the-art sensors -- many markedly superior to eyes and ears -- to avoid danger?

    • What just might improve road safety? Compulsory driving tests after an accident or compulsory advanced motorist training might just make a difference.

      I completely agree. I visited Europe in 1996, and it was startling how much everybody speeds on the Autobahn, yet it still feels perfectly safe because everybody knows how to control their vehicle, and is generally paying attention. Here in the US, in most states any 16-yr-old yahoo can get a license, without having to verify much more than that they know how to parallel park. And in general, they only have to verify that once in their lives - after they get their license at 16, they keep it until they're 90 and the state just assumes that they know how to drive.
    • The reason those faster roads are safe are because they have ramps and are much more straight. The low speed limit roads involve a much slower time to get into the road and moving, and more curves and hence reduced visibility...
  • Something similar... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deag (250823) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:44PM (#3379723)
    Here in Ireland, Car insurance rates are very very high for people under the age of 25.

    So one insurance company came up with an scheme where you'd have a box installed in your car, and if you agreed not to break the speed limit or drive your car in the early hours of the morning, you'd get cheaper insurance.

    Never heard of any one actually using it though.
  • A nice idea but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrBoB (63135) on Saturday April 20, 2002 @01:51PM (#3379745)
    I'm always paranoid about collection devices that have the ability to beam data back to a central repository. I'm concerned with the abuse of such systems. Instead (in addition, who knows) of raising your rates, insurance companies would have data available to them that would allow them to completely drop policies, or give them impetus to call you, suggesting you "raise your premium or coverages" due to your driving habits! On the other hand, if this device has the ability to beam back driving data, what keeps it from beaming back position information? Law enforcement/ insurance might ask to have such functionality available to them to make it "easier to recover stolen vehicles" or to "keep track of 'rehabilitated' cons."

    Personally, I would be more in favor of a standardized system that would allow Police to pull data off a wrecked car to find out more about the crash. Since, as other people have mentioned, it would be hard put to use such a device to determine LIABILITY, Police (and Insurance) will still need to be satisfied with witness testimony. Being required to actively "pull" data from such a system, the potential for abuse will be greatly diminished.

    -Bob

  • dollar signs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by j09824 (572485)
    If companies were really concerned about speeding as a cause of accidents, they'd put speed limiters into cars. It's cheap and requires no high-tech gadgets. We also know the other major causes of accidents already: driver fatigue and driver unfamiliarity with conditions; those would be easily addressed with driver training and other simple mechanisms.

    Putting a lot of expensive high-tech electronics into cars to collect crash data is stupid. First, you pay for a lot of gadgetry. Then, insurance companies will have a field day holding people responsible and refusing to pay out.

  • So far all the comments that are +3 or higher are either, "The cops are just gonna use this to hand out tickets to me. Quick narc'ing my rights!"

    Blah. Okay, assuming for a minute that these devices even would be used by the police to monitor speeding and hand out tickets (that hasn't been stated, an in fact has been ruled against in CT already), IF YOU'RE SPEEDING AND YOU GET A TICKET, TOO BAD!!

    Here's a little-remembered fact: speed limit (emphasis mine) means the maximum speed at which one can drive. Now you may whine and gripe six ways to Sunday if you get pulled over for doing 32 in a 30, but guess what? You broke the law. It's a black-and-white issue to the courts. You can come up with 10,000 reasons why you're a good driver, the speed you were travelling at was safe, ad infinitum typical American tomfoolery, but the fact is that you BROKE THE LAW.

    I can't stand the speed limits in certain areas either (by the way, I'm an American) but whining about it doesn't do a thing except make you look pedantic. Grow up. IF this technology is used to monitor driving, and that's a big IF, then it might actually force you to follow the law. What a concept.

    And yes, I know in Germany or Switzerland or Cochabamba or whatever they have higher speed limits, fewer fatalities, etc. Newsflash: this isn't Germany.

    Now, back to the original point, consider the "crazy" idea that maybe, just maybe this idea was started by decent people who aren't a Gestapo and have a legitamate interest in improving vehicle safety. My, what a silly idea!
    • Speeding is an easy thing to do, unfortunately. I haven't had a speeding ticket yet, because I drive either the limit or just over, unlike everyone around me which pass me in anger because they're going 30 over. It isn't really a black and white issue, either. Speeding tickets cost a lot of money for the 'average Joe' and if people everywhere else in the world drive like people in Tennessee generally do, then there are a lot of criminals out there. Soccer moms, church families, all these people violate the speed limit daily. If speed were the biggest factor in car wrecks, it would be more regulated. In both of the wrecks I've been in, speed wasn't the factor. One, my brakes went out, and the other a guy wasn't paying attention, ran a red light, and hit me in the rear passenger's side tire. It was then blamed on me because everyone in his vehicle said I stopped in the middle of the road and he couldn't avoid me. Stupidity causes wrecks. Not a sign that says, "Speed Limit 30"
    • Here's a little-remembered fact: speed limit (emphasis mine) means the maximum speed at which one can drive. Now you may whine and gripe six ways to Sunday if you get pulled over for doing 32 in a 30, but guess what? You broke the law. It's a black-and-white issue to the courts.

      Actually, it's not quite so black and white for 30 in a 32. I was talking to my neighbor one day, and he is an ex-cop. He explaned to me that they can't even pull you over for doing anything less than 5 over. In other words, you have to be doing 35 in a 30 to get in trouble. That is of course under Florida law, but it makes sense. RADAR may not always be the most accurate thing, the speedomiter in your car/the officer's car may be just a bit off.

      Here is one piece of advice though: Don't claim "my speedomiter said I was going 40MPH not 55MPH!" It won't help and (s)he could ticket you for defective equiptment in your car.

      --Josh
  • The FAA expressely prohibits "Black box" (CVR/FDR) data from being used in any legal enforcement action. [gpo.gov] It is only accessible for accident investigation and safety purposes. In other words, an airline can't legally snoop the data and decide to fire you the pilot just because you did something wrong. Only if there was an accident, and the NTSB, using that data after the fact, proves your fault, then only in that case, the data plays a role in any discipline action.

    One can only imagine that they will make such a policy for cars, hopefully!
    • Thanks for link. I expected everybody here to jump on this as a major negative.

      By the way, any o you buying a new GM may already have such a device in your car.

      And yes, it will help in accident investigations.
  • I am a bit of a car nut, and I know of a couple of cases where telemetry data has been used against car owners:

    On the 1995 M3, BMW noticed all sorts of warranty claims coming in about blown motors (like the first 2 cars in the country, within a week of delivery). They eventually traced the problem to people missing shifts, going from 4th to 3rd as an example, under heavy accelleration (that IS why you bought an M3 after all). The very smooth gearbox (I can shift into 1st in my M3 at 80mph without a problem) combined with soft transmission mounts meant that missing a shift was VERY easy, in some cases, there is NO WAY to tell you put the selector in the wrong slot.

    In 1996, BMW switched their cars from Bosch to Siemens electronics, and put a telltale feature on the motor management system. If the car went over the redline, it would set a fault with the RPM saved in memory. A few M3 owners have sued their BMW delaers with claims that they didn't over rev the engine but dealers denied warranty coverage and a few of those cases have been true. One way to tell if a dealer is trying to stick you is to look for a printout of the RPM fault, if the number is not divisible by 256, they are making it up.

    Another example was the case of a hit and run driver in a Caddy SUV (the Navigator monstrosity I think). The police responded to OnStar's call, the system on the Navigator having called in after the airbag was deployed. Of course, with GPS, it gave OnStar gave the cops the exact location of the accident (but not updated information of where the driver had gone). The cops followed the nice trail of coolent and parts to the Navigator driver's home and arrested him...
  • Yep, that's what it'll be. Everyone will run screaming to get old used cars, the aftermarket for modding these things into everything will flourish.

    Blackboxes, maybe even with 802.11 so the CHP can spy on you (drives fast, changes lanes frequently, tailgates, yeah... better send them a recruitment letter), beyone the obvious invasion of privacy argument (He's parked in front of your house again, sarge, shows up two minutes after you leave for work everyday...) there's certainly going to be a firestorm of protest at jacking up the cost of cars. We'll spend insane amounts of money once we got them, but don't even think about charging $200 more on the sticker price...

  • Newer model sports cars log the highest RPM and/or speed that they've hit in order to protect against overrev damage warranty claims to the valves, etc, as a result of mis-shifts to racing abuse. It is likely possible to get the codes cleared with a scan tool, but if they're non standard, there's no standard tool for doing it. The Acura Integra Type-R has been rumored to have the ability to tell if the owner has put the vehicle past redline.

    This isn't to say you can't fool the ECU. Boxes exist now that take the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) input to the ECU and report a lower value than is actually being travelled to get around speed governors which are mandated by law in Japan and put in on some cars (most SUVs will not go faster than 160 km/h). This isn't to say you can't just replace the engine computer altogether, there are many products that do this already from manufactuers like Haltech, AEM, Motec, etc.

    This gadget is too easy to work around, and there's no incentive for consumers to put it in their cars if they don't want to. It is a myth that high speed has anything to do with safety - it's usually the slow drivers with bad situational awareness the cause accidents.

    What it is, however, is one more step towards mandated government control of vehicles, and is bad news. Changing the ECU is illegal now, because you're tampering with emissions equipment, so messing with one of these gadgets would be, too.

    If legislators really gave two shits about safety on the highway, they'd make professional driver training manditory - think a few hundred hours of training, not a weekend - and reinforce that with 5 year re-evaluations of drivers. I've chosen to spend lots of money taking performance driving schools and learning how to drive, something which has saved my ass from an expensive accident more than once. A stupid little black box is not going to help the soccer mom with no idea how to merge into a 120km/h highway traffic flow, or how to do simple brake and avoid maneuvers in a top-heavy vehicle.

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