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Insurance companies ride shotgun as US gov green lights black box recorders in new cars

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Well, OK, it’s not really new. Some automakers, like GM, have been recording consumer driving habits since the early 1990s. In fact, around 91 percent of all light-duty vehicles in the US currently contain data logging devices.

Motor Authority is reporting the new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandate, which has been approved by the White House, requires 100 percent of all new cars to incorporate data recorders in 2013.

These new “black boxes,” which probably won’t be black or boxy, will measure 15 data points, including; brake pressure; speed; steering angle; and even seatbelt usage. What this data will be used for – and who will own this data – is presently unclear. Be sure law enforcement and insurance agencies will try their hardest to get a hold of the data.

For now, this development shouldn’t represent any real change for consumers. In several years, however, it could. Insurance companies, in order to deny accident claims, could readily use these data points to raise rates on erratic and unsafe drivers. Along those same lines, law enforcement – in the foreseeable future – try to access this data wirelessly and on the fly, raising a whole host of privacy concerns.

Although these blind boxes are most likely a good thing for your every day consumer, we wonder if they shouldn’t additionally require dash cams like they do in Russia. Speed and brake application data can be helpful to determine wrongdoing but a video would be even better. Dash cams, if not make us more accountable behind the wheel, would certainly provide some hair-raising video for YouTube.