Saturday, December 23, 2006

Black box data admissible in court, kids!

That little black box under your car seat remembers a lot of stuff if you get in a crash, boys and girls.  Such as the previous 5 to 15 seconds of driver input including everything from pitch, yaw and roll to the air conditioner setting.

All of which is admissible in Canadian courts.  Oh, and lots of American ones too, like Kalifornia (People's Republic of).  So when the nice officer asks you what happened, SHUT UP.  That way at least they can't claim you lied later.

The people that brought you the current OBD2 version black box (Kalifornia, that is) have more in store.  In particular they have big plans for the unholy marriage of a cell phone and a GPS unit with a boosted version of the black box.   Basically  added sensors and a LOT of memory, it  will record data for weeks or months instead of seconds. You can get a ton of data on a 2 gig flash card.

This thing will know where your car is, how fast its going, what the speed limit is on that street, how many people are in the car, when the last time you changed your oil was, and maybe even if its you that's driving based on your weight in the driver's seat and/or your thumb print on the door lock.  Best of all, it will be able to call the cops on you if you are speeding, running a red or [gasp!] SMOKING.  The cops, upon receiving this call from your car, will be able to issue you a ticket electronically, inform you of said ticket VERBALLY through your in-car phone (and tell you to slow the hell down too!), or possibly disable your engine and lock the brakes for good measure should the mood strike them to do so. 

Should the all-important emission controls indicate the car is running dirty, the on-board computer could unilaterally decide to cripple the car, tell you where the nearest Official Repair Station is and refuse to go in any other direction than toward said repair station.  Given the cheapness of video cameras these days they could probably stick a few of those in there too and run 24 hour surveillance on you in your own car.  At your expense to boot.

Why bother with all this?  Because people too stupid to be trusted with guns are also far, far too stupid to be trusted with cars.

That'd be you and me, my friends.

Let me assure you, this is going to happen.    Large players are bringing a lot of money to bear on the issue to drive it through the legislatures and the courts.  The insurance industry alone has sufficient interest in this to lobby all levels of government intensely.

What to do?  Two things.  First, vote for people who don't like this kind of thing.  You are going to have to ask each one individually, Republicans and Conservatives have just as bad a record on this issue as the Lefties, more's the pity.

Second, drive a car that doesn't have a black box.  That means an antique with a carburetor or a fuel injection unit you built yourself.  Like this one

There's always a way to do it.  Sometimes its just a pain in the butt is all.

The Phantom