Big Brother's Along for the Ride
There might be a patron saint of travel watching over you, and it isn't necessarily St. Christopher. If you drive a car, owned, leased or rented, from around the year 2000 onward, there is a good chance it has an Event Data Recorder (EDR) onboard. Much like a flight data recorder that is on commercial airliners to provide ex post facto information about events leading up to an accident, the EDR is a GPS-enabled microprocessor system that collects and stores real-time information on position, speed and acceleration. Unlike pilots, though, most drivers are not aware of the devices monitoring their activity. While there are many positive uses for the collected data that assists in R&D for designing safer vehicles and driver education, our friends the Trial Lawyers have used the information to prosecute operators in court. Convictions have been obtained based on EDR data for drunken drivers who have killed innocent people - a good thing indeed. However, insurance and other companies, as well as private detectives have acquired the ability to read EDR contents and use the information against drivers. In one infamous case, a national rental car company was forced to reimburse a client for fees imposed against his credit card ($450) for speeding based on EDR data. I just thought you would like to know before planning your next excursion.