Friday, March 1

Debunking the myths of the car’s black box: they won’t watch you or know who you’re talking to


Next May, one of the great advances in road safety that have taken place so far in the European Union will be launched. All new cars homologated between May 2022 and May 2024 will be required to have, as standard, a series of ADAS safety systems (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), including emergency braking, the assistant speed smart or the addition of a small black box.


This black box, officially known as data recorder or EDR (Event Data Recorder, in English) is part of the measures taken by the European Union to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the road. The project is called vision zero and has the ambitious goal of eliminating road deaths by 2050. But what do we know about this device?

How does a black box work in a car?

The black box of a car It is the size of a cigarette pack and will be welded to the driver’s seat in its lower area. The system continuously monitors up to 15 vehicle parameters, such as your speed, engine revolutions, steering wheel movement, use of seat belts or the force of the impact in the event of an accident. If this happens, the airbag system sends a signal that it has been activated and the data logger saves information relating to the 30 seconds before and five seconds after the accident.

The operation, therefore, is similar to that of an airplane black box, but there are some differences to take into account. First, the device will be unable to save the driver’s personal information, such as the driver’s name, gender or age. What’s more, will not record conversations that take place inside the vehicle, as it happens during a flight.

All this data is continually overwritten if no hits are recorded. “Incident data recorders must operate in a closed loop system in which the stored data is rewritten and that does not allow the vehicle or the owner of the data to be identified”, is collected in the Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 of November 27, 2019 where it was approved.

Therefore, there will be no way to access the data if there has been no impact and, if it happens, whoever accesses them will not find information related to the positioning of the vehicle or a history of where it has been driven.

Who has access to my data and what can they do with it?

The mandatory implementation of a black box has raised some critical voices that ensured that this system is a means to control the driver, to know where does it move and a cushion for insurers, who can wash their hands in the event of an accident.

Regarding the access and management of these data, only the competent authorities responsible for traffic safety in each Member State may use them and when they are incorporated into databases it will be impossible to identify the personal data of each driver. “Those loggers must be able to record and store data in such a way that Member States can use it to carry out road safety analyses. and evaluate the effectiveness of specific measures that have been adopted, without the possibility of identifying the owner or possessor of a specific vehicle on the basis of the stored data,” the document reads.

Therefore, the final objective of the implementation of these data will be to analyze what happened in each accident, consolidate a database that reflects the reasons for the accident and, thus, be able to develop reports that conclude the most common reasons that are combined in a serious or fatal accident on the road to later apply the necessary corrective measures.

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And in case of trial?

In addition to the statistical record, the data recorded in a black box can also be part of a trial as evidence to find a guilty party, if it is considered relevant. Samuel Parra, lawyer specializing in privacy in Aegis, explains to us that, If these data are required, they can be provided by the competent traffic authorities. and, as a plaintiff in the trial, an insurer may exempt liability if it is shown that the driver failed to comply with any traffic rule.

Samuel Parra also makes it clear to us that insurers will not be able to access this data unless they are put on the table in the judicial process. It will not be possible for the company to request this information from those responsible for traffic nor will they be able to have an automatic system that sends the recorded information to a private space of the company in the event of an accident.

Photos | Cottonbro y DGT





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