Actually, it's a fairly modern thing, and quite separate from the ECM that
all EFI cars have.
This particular black box keeps track of things like:
Maximum speeds the car's operated at;
Maximum RPM the engine was operated at;
Maximum g-loading in corners or upon impact, and the direction of that
Whether seat belts are being worn;
The tattle-boxes can do this in real-time, too.
Much of the impetus for these things is liability legislation, which
exposes manufacturers to considerable risk of huge punitive awards.
It also comes in handy for warranty claims, too. If you blow your engine
because you missed a shift into 5th at 84 mph, the black box will record
the rpm as 9,500 at the moment of destruction, and your warranty claim will
be denied on account of abuse. Absent the black box, they would have no way
of knowing for sure how fast the motor was turning, and would probably have
honored the claim.
This last anecdote actually happened to very recently to Toyota, with an
owner's new Celica.
Look at David's very first message on Aug12, then scroll down to the first
message from Philip on Aug13.
Frankly, I don't like the data recorders either. But there's really nobody
to blame for them except the goverment and legal activists.
Why would the presence of this unit be upsetting to you? If you are involved
in a collision, it has the power to remove all doubt about what your vehicle
was doing prior to the collision. An onboard witness that can't be bought is
a good thing.
I am undecided its good or bad. First off, I want to know if the car has on
it. Second, where it is and what interface does it have etc ?
What data does it store day ti day ? If all EDRs are good, why don't they
advertise it as one more thing your call has.
For now, I want to conclude via some website my car has it or not... All
American cars do but not sure about all imports ?
My understanding is that it does not store data beyond a sliding window of
several seconds. The data is kept in a circular buffer (it continuously
overwrites the oldest data) which stops updating a moment after air bag
They are the result of claims regarding wrongful deployment of air bags, and
I believe they are usually integral with the air bag controller. The
interface is proprietary. False air bag deployment is so dangerous that it
needed to be documented whether the conditions warranted deployment, or if
not, what could have caused the bag to deploy.
Since air bags are mandatory, I think it's safe to assume every car made
today and in recent years has one.
As long as the data in it is 100% accurate. There is a culture in most
western nations to believe implicitly 'technological data' recorded in
consumer machines. Everything from data recorders, to the number logs
on fax machines (for instance, obviously the 'from' number can be easy
to falsify, but the 'to' can be harder'
I drive tractor trailer for a living. Our trucks have company installed
onboard recorders. They record every thing the truck does through the run,
engine speed, road speed, distance travelled, overspeed of the engine the
time of day that every happens, the number of stops and where we stopped and
for how long. While some people say this is an infringement on their
personal privacy, I look at it as being the same as driving with the boss or
a police officer in the cab with me. If they were there, they would see the
same things, but not as accurately as the computer recorder does and if a
person calls the company and says that I was speeding along a stretch of
road at a certain time, it can verify that it was or wasn't me. The same
thing applies if the truck was involved in a collision.
We used to use tachographs here too. These are easier to use and harder to
fool, the tachographs could be fooled by inserting the graph paper in
backwards or putting a slight bend in the writing tip. The computer can't be
read at the side of the road, it has to be downloaded at our Distribution
I tend to agree with Jim much of time, but on this I agree with Brian. I drive a
school bus with a tach, and I frive right. If there's ever a question as to
whether I was speeding (or even driving) at given time, I'm covered. I fail to
see how a black box could be used to your disadvantage if you drive within legal
Of course, if you routinely break the law, you have three potential problems:
Cops, the blackbox, and an accident.
(Incidentally, my training says for every 300 violations, there are 29
accidents, and 1 fatality.)
I speed;so what? I do it where it's prudent,and police and politicians
speed,too,A lot faster than I do. Politicians alone have harmed more people
driving than I have.
I believe we do not need more "Big Brother" monitoring devices.
IMO,police could(and should) toss out their radar and laser guns,and
concentrate on violations that really make a difference in driving
safety,like RLrunning,reckless driving,improper lane changes,KRETP and
But they "enforce" where the easy money is,and where it has little effect
on traffic safety.
If you speed, you have no legitimate beef with monitoring devices. They
simply hold you accountable for what you do.
Personally, I stopped speeding decades ago. I did some simple calculations
and decided it was a fool's game. Since then, I have only sped on one
occasion. On a pair of 12 hour legs of a long trip we fudged the speed limit
by 3-5 mph. It made about a half hour difference when we needed it most.
Stretching that to 10 mph would have exposed us to more liability than the
time gain would have justified - we were already going to arrive before
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