Well, everyone knows about the two data recorders in airplanes. But cars? Really?
Ostensibly, it’s the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) which is recommending this for cars, and if they have their way, we might see them in cars by 2014.
This rulemaking proposal is called:
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety
49 CFR Part 571
[Docket No. NHTSA–2012–0177]
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standards; Event Data Recorders
AGENCY: National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA),
Department of Transportation.
ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking
Their motives as outlined here:
sound pure enough. All they want is a few seconds before, during and after the crash to aid in making cars more reliable.
So… sounds like a good idea, no? There won’t be a voice recorder. Yet. It wouldn’t be hard to add, though.
What would they record? Well, obviously speed, throttle voltage, brake lights, ignition, number of passengers, seat belt status, and what would all that be worth without location, right? After all, speed without location isn’t very helpful. It would be triggered to record (actually, to keep what it already is keeping in its buffer) by a sharp turn, braking, and hard bumps as well as any collision. What’s proposed is 30 seconds of data. At this point.
Well, if there’s an accident the insurance company is sure to get the data… and be able to find a reason (any reason) to deny your claim. Already they are offering lower rates for folks who voluntarily plug in a data recorder of sorts which transmits data to them. That’s the negative.
It could be so much more: It could save lives.
I’d rather see an effort to have data recorded which would really tell an operator what’s going on in his engine and with the other systems in his car. All that’s really needed is a large buffer (not necessarily in the car itself) and a diagnostic algorithm. The Cloud might be a good place (if location is rigorously encrypted) for such a buffer. It wouldn’t have to be going 24/7/365…it could record only in cases of significant problems, and then alert the operator immediately along with a report for the mechanic.
Legal aspects shouldn’t be ignored. It might also help in finding the guilty party/ies and help in assessing liability but I don’t believe that should be the primary function. It could save many lives if someone listens.