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Your Car Knows More Than You Think

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Many of us have grudgingly accepted the fact that Siri and Google know more about us than our moms. But how many drivers know that their daily driver is silently recording information?

Almost every vehicle built in the last 15 years has an Event Data Recorder (EDR). The device is similar to the "Black Box" on an airplane. They are not quite as sophisticated as those used in aviation, but they are getting smarter all the time.

EDRs record a plethora of data: speed, angle of steering, braking action, rate of acceleration, airbag deployment, number and location of passengers, and seatbelt use (or lack thereof).

There are benefits and disadvantages to EDRs and the telematics they use to transmit information.


EDR data can help crash first responders make better medical transport and treatment decisions.

Automotive engineers use EDR data to improve car safety.

Auto insurance companies can plug into your EDR to monitor driving habits and lower your premium rates if you qualify.

EDRs can be used by car theft investigators to locate stolen cars.

EDRs make it possible for a technician to diagnosis a malfunction with your vehicle remotely.

The systems used by EDRs to communicate with your car make it possible to update electronic systems with a remote download.


Carmakers haven't been forthcoming about educating their customers about this powerful device.

You can't easily turn it off if you don't want your driving behavior recorded.

Data is virtually impossible to access for the average motorist.

"Getting your hands on black box data requires professional training, and a Crash Data Retrieval system that starts at $2,000 and can cost up to $20,000 with accessories. The CDR system plugs into the on-board diagnostics port under the dashboard on the driver's side and transfers the information to a special computer program." USA Today, "How To Keep Your Black Box Private"

If you are nervous that your EDR data could be used against you, keep in mind that GPS and OnStar-type services are probably more likely to compromise your privacy, as they record a lot more information and are easier to hack into.

It will be interesting to see how the current EDR legal issues play out. If you have questions about the black box in your automobile or other auto electronics, give us a call at 716-665-2501. Thanks for visiting the I-86 Truck & Auto Repair blog.