Black Box Insurance

When we hear someone talking about a black box, most of us think of the monitoring equipment found in a passenger aircraft. Yes? Well that’s no longer the case. The black box, or event data recorder (EDR), as it’s referred to, is now playing a vital role in the motor industry, helping with the investigation of vehicle accidents by monitoring a car’s components (brakes, steering, etc.) and the actions of the car driver.

A black box fitted to a vehicle is able to record a car’s speed, the amount of braking and turning, etc. in the vital few seconds leading up to an accident. Not only is the black box useful to police and insurance companies to help them reconstruct the events immediately prior to an accident, but it also has benefits for the owner of a car.
There is some concern that black boxes are an invasion of privacy and can incriminate the driver, but for those involved in an accident through no fault of their own and without witnesses, that can be a blessing. It’s as well to remember that a black box fitted in a vehicle does not record voices and doesn’t track the car’s movement or the driver’s actions constantly – it only records and stores data in those few seconds before a collision. So privacy is not an issue.

The first black box was used as far back as 1996, but today nearly 80% of all new cars come with black boxes already installed. They are normally fitted under the seat or dashboard and start recording and storing data a few seconds before they sense the activation of any airbags.



Black boxes are designed to record and store not only the speed of a car at the time of an accident but also whether the driver had pressed down the brake pedal, was wearing a seat belt, or had made any sudden left or right turns. It can also record technical malfunctions in the few seconds before an accident.

Another type of vehicle black box available on the market is the video data event recorder which is used voluntarily by drivers. These boxes which feature a camera and a GPS unit are fitted to the windshield of a car and collect performance data such as acceleration, braking and turning. This information is automatically stored on a secure digital card similar to those found in a digital camera, and the footage can later be viewed on a computer. Like those found beneath the seat or behind the dashboard, the video data event recorder captures the speed, acceleration, sudden turns, braking and other important driver actions in the few seconds immediately prior to an accident.

The black box can determine what caused the accident and which driver was responsible. Data from a black box is often used in court and in 2006, a Birmingham man, who caused a serious accident, was given a 21 month prison sentence when the black box revealed he was travelling at double the speed limit. In addition, research reveals that young drivers, who are 25 or under, make up around 40% of all traffic accidents. The car black box is a useful tool that helps parents monitor their child’s driving style and habits – they can review their son or daughter’s driving data on their computer and use this as a teaching aid.

A black box fitted to the windshield is very useful as the camera itself records the driver’s viewpoint and the GPS unit records the precise location of the vehicle at the time of the accident. It’s also handy if you’re trying to dispute a police officer’s claim, or another driver’s claim, as it leaves no doubt about who’s in the right or wrong.

The evidence gathered and stored by a black box is very helpful to insurance companies too. Insurance companies are able to evaluate who is drives safely and with care, and who does not, enabling them to lower safe drivers’ premiums and increase those of dangerous drivers. Drivers can also qualify for additional discounted insurance rates if they use a black box.

Car black boxes are also the perfect tool for car rental companies. There are hundreds of disputes about car damage when cars are returned and these can be easily resolved by reviewing the black box data. Ultimately, this means customers won’t be charged for car damage they were not responsible for in the first place.

So, all in all, there are very many advantages and almost no disadvantages to having a black box fitted in a car and fitted onto the windscreen of a car. The black box promotes safer driving and can resolve what could be costly and lengthy disputes, and it can save drivers a great deal of money on their insurance premiums.

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2 Responses to “Black Box Insurance”

  1. Ricky says:

    I like the concept here and I like how it measure other peoples driving to bring the price down but personally I am too guarded of my privacy to use something like this. I guess I am saying I like the idea but I would never use it

  2. Ricky says:

    While its true that you are able to be traced via a mobile phone record or movements tracked by the police this is very different as you are opening up your movements to marketing people who don’t have the same data protection restrictions as the police do

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