Data recorders monitor teen drivers

Sept. 17, 2003, midnight | By Ellie Blalock | 17 years, 4 months ago

Recorders raise interest among law enforcement and privacy advocates

According to the Washington Post, a consumer version of the "event data recorder," or EDR, which records information on a vehicle's usage, has recently become available to parents for use in monitoring teen driving. An older version of the EDR has been standard in most vehicles for more than eight years, for it is often used by law enforcement in criminal investigations.

The EDRs which monitor teen drivers are small black boxes which can note speeding incidents, seat-belt use, hard braking, hard cornering, acceleration, and throttle position. In a few months a global positioning system will be available, and parents will be able to track where the vehicle and the teen have gone by uploading a computer file.

Some teens have been irritated by the EDR, but data shows that the boxes force teens to drive safely, according to the Washington Post. "We're not trying to make their life miserable, and I won't tell you that they love it, but it really does change driving behaviors," said Larry Seldlitz, owner of Road Safety International, RSI, which developed the cheaper, consumer model of the EDR.

Law enforcement officers have been analyzing the earlier model EDRs standard in motor vehicles for many years, according to the Washington Post. The EDR records speed and other technical data that can be useful in crash investigations.

EDRs have come under scrutiny lately from privacy advocates who worry that the EDR "intrudes on everyday life." Others have complained that car owners are not being told by their carmakers about the EDRs installed in their vehicles, yet the data EDRs record is being used in criminal investigations and traffic homicide cases.

Carmakers disagree, and have argued that some owners may attempt to disconnect the EDRs, violating laws which prohibit tampering with car safety equipment, and possibly damaging the vehicle's airbag system.

The EDRs are produced by RSI, which also designed the earlier version of the EDR used by emergency paramedics, police and firefighters. The consumer version of the black box is available for $280.

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Ellie Blalock. Ellie is a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys such activities as traveling, being able to say "water" in six languages and having heart-to-heart chats with eccentric politicians. If you're in need of a laugh, please ask Ellie about her driving … More »

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