Most people have heard of black boxes; devices installed in airplanes that record every single aspect of the flight so that airline professionals and manufacturers could tell what went wrong in case of an accident or a crash. Well, now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to make these black boxes mandatory for all new cars as well.
Before you start panicking that recording of all your driving behavior is a huge invasion of privacy, which it sort of is when compared to older cars that didn’t contain any tracking devices, you should take into consideration that the car you are driving now probably has one of these black boxes installed in it already; you just don’t know about it.
Chances are that if your car has airbags installed in it, it most likely has one of these black boxes, or event data recorders, as they’re formally called. However, because these devices weren’t legally mandated before, car makers were free to create them in the best way they saw fit, regardless of government standards. The main purpose of these black boxes was so that car manufacturers could better see how cars perform, and if car accidents were the fault of the driver or if there was a car malfunction that could lead to a recall.
With the new, mandated standardized black boxes, data would be much easier to access and share, meaning that it would also be available to police in case of accidents in proving when a driver was speeding (which it already does, but it is harder to access and extract data as different cars have different data formats). Another concern for drivers is whether this data will also be shared with insurance companies, making it easier for them to see to whom to provide cheap insurance based on previous safe driving and who to deny or charge a premium based on dangerous driving habits.
In a way, this transparency could be good for overall monitoring of driving habits and giving people that deserve cheap insurance better rates, not to mention proving who is at fault during accidents, but it could also be seen as a huge invasion of privacy as now all of a driver’s driving habits are clearly recorded and easily accessible whenever the government sees fit.