Monthly Archives: December 2012

‘Black Boxes’ For Cars One Step Closer To Mandatory

The National Transportation Safety Agency has once again put forward a plan to make secure, so-called ‘black box’ technology, mandatory on all vehicles, this time setting a deadline for the inclusion of these devices in all new cars starting in 2014. This technology is very similar to the devices currently in use in all aircraft, although the devices used in automobiles will not include a cockpit voice recorder or anything which records what the driver may or may not have been doing–just the automobile.

Already a great many automobile manufacturers use similar technology as part of the electronic integrated computer controlled environments of their vehicles. These devices have already proved their worth by recording vehicle information such as speed, sudden braking, turns or swerving. The devices only record this data in the last 30 seconds before the crash, so it is not as if the devices are recording every move you have made in your automobile, just the information which might have affected the crash.

Privacy advocates have said these devices are an infringement on personal privacy, but safety advocates say since the device is only recording a brief piece of driving information and then only in the event of a vehicle collision, there is no infringement on personal privacy. This information is usually determine through tactics used by police crash investigation teams. Using ‘black box’ technology there would be an immediate response to attempts to know exactly what happened.

In February the NTSA will allow a brief period for public comment on the issue of mandatory ‘black box’ technology, but it seems unlikely that any argument against the technology will prevent its eventual inclusive in all automobiles. The best advice for people who want information about their driving habits to stay secret beyond 2014 is to avoid having a vehicle collision.

New Auto Paint Is Not A Crime In Florida

We’ve all had the sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach when a police car pulls behind us, even when their lights and sirens are not active. But as long as we are driving below the speed limit and obeying all other traffic laws we know the police car is likely to just keep on driving when we turn off.

However, police might be looking at other things beside the quality of our driving. With in-car access to advanced and detailed driving records, some with access to a national data base of information, police are on the lookout for more than just unsafe drivers. In one case in particular Florida police pulled over a driver because the van he was driving had been painted a color different from what was reflected on their vehicle registration. Subsequent to the stop police discovered the driver had marijuana and crack cocaine in his vehicle. He was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.

However, a recent ruling by the Florida appellate court reversed the conviction and freed the driver, because the fact that his vehicle had recently been painted was not justifiable cause for police to pull him over. That means that although the man was discovered to be in possession of illegal drugs, the police would not have discovered that information if they hadn’t pulled him over wrongly in the first place.

This was a win for the convicted felon but a loss for police as it limits their ability to make a traffic stop when they see something suspicious. Apparently the Florida Appeals court doesn’t think a paint job different from what’s on the vehicle registration isn;t suspicious enough for a traffic stop. Even though it resulted in getting a drug user (dealer?) off the streets.

Electric Cars Holding Resale Value

Buyers of new electric vehicles have a few things to consider before shelling out a premium for a vehicle which uses mostly untested technology. Among these are reliability, mileage and of course, resale value.

Fortunately, now that these vehicles have been on the road for a few years we have answers to all three of those questions. The mileage numbers are fairly well known by now as are the reliability issues (or lack thereof) for most of these vehicles. And now, based on a new report from Kelley Blue Book, the guide for used car resale sellers and buyers, sheds some light on the issue what your electric vehicle might be worth when it comes time to trade it is.

The good news is that these new electric vehicles are proving to be hardier and more enduring than many had surmised they would be. In fact, for many of these vehicles, the resale value is almost as high as it is for their traditional gasoline powered cousins. That is a further incentive for buyers of electric vehicles who enjoy trading in their cars every couple years or so and driving something new.

At this point buying an electric vehicle means paying a little more money for a little less money and a lot more risk than if you just bought a traditional gasoline powered vehicle. The higher resale value certainly has been affected by the recent reports showing electric cars are not only cheap on gasoline (or use no gasoline) they are also great cars. Consumer Reports magazine said the Chevy Volt was at the top of its owner satisfaction category for the second year in a row.

If you are in the market for an alternative fuel vehicle, whether it is all-electric or a hybrid electric vehicle, you can rest assured that your new vehicle won’t suffer much worse in value when you drive it off the lot than a traditional gasoline powered vehicle.