Thursday, May 03, 2007

Is Big Brother in your car?

By Michelle Esteban
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When you hear about "black boxes" you probably picture airplanes that have been in horrible accidents.

The black box is the first thing investigators look for.

The boxes record cockpit communications and airplane information, and can often tell investigators what lead to the disaster.

But few people know that black boxes aren't just in airplanes. They're in cars too. And chances are good there's one in your car, but you can't lift the hood to see it.

But if you get in an accident the information could be used against you.

There are hundreds of vehicle collisions every day. Sometimes the cause is obvious, and other times its not. Drivers often get into a blame game and the accident investigators are left to sort out who is at fault.

But your car's black box can help them do just that.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of all new cars now carry a so-called black box. The device records how a car was being driven just seconds before impact. The black box, which is really silver, is buried in the car's underbelly and incorporated into the airbag system.

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