Monday, December 10, 2012

White House to implement black box law requiring all cars to spy on you by 2015. (You may already be driving one)

This was tucked into Senate bill 1813, reauthorizing highway funds (as was an unrelated provision, authored by Barbara Boxer, to allow the IRS sweeping new powers to have passports denied or revoked.) 
     Insurance companies love this "Event Data Recorder" law and lobbied for it. Their agenda: Contributory negligence on the part of victims! Reduced awards! Less liability for us!
     Scenario: Say you're paralyzed by a drunk driver who headbutted your vehicle while you were stopped at a light and sent your skull through the windshield. (We'll assume the airbag didn't deploy, which happens more than you think.)
    Drunk's insurance company could subpoena the black box info in your vehicle, find out you weren't wearing a seat belt while stopped at the light, and then argue "contributory negligence" on your part, reducing your damages by, say, a fifth. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 15 states do allow reduced damages for seat belt “nonuse.”
     There are many, many other ways that the insurance companies of drivers who injure you could use black box information in YOUR car/truck against you to reduce your compensation and their liability.

From Fox:
It's extremely difficult for car owners to disable the recorders. Although some vehicle models have had recorders since the early 1990s, a federal requirement that automakers disclose their existence in owner's manuals didn't go into effect until three months ago. Automakers who voluntarily put recorders in vehicles are also now required to gather a minimum of 15 types of data.
     Besides the upcoming proposal to put recorders in all new vehicles, the traffic safety administration is also considering expanding the data requirement to include as many as 30 additional types of data such as whether the vehicle's electronic stability control was engaged, the driver's seat position or whether the front-seat passenger was belted in. Some manufacturers already are collecting the information. Engineers have identified more than 80 data points that might be useful.

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