According to Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government affairs, these devices, known as electronic data recorders or EDRs, are used the same way black boxes on airplanes are used when there’s a crash.

(John Panella, ThinkStock)

“The black box collects a variety of data and it is typically used in the event of a serious crash, letting authorizes know exactly what happened leading up to that crash, the rate of speed of the vehicle, whether there was an abrupt steering maneuver or hard braking,” she said.

Noble said out last May, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that limits who can get data from your car’s black box.

The only people that have access to it are the owner of the vehicle, (or the owners representative) otherwise the data is usually retrieved by law enforcement and it needs to be obtained with the use of a warrant,” she said.

According to Noble, black box data can also be used by the vehicle manufacturer to improve to improve motor vehicle safety, as long as the identity of the owner is not disclosed.

Some drivers are concerned that insurance companies may be using black box data, but Noble said “they are not allowed to be accessed by insurance companies for rate purposes.”

However, she said some insurance companies do use devices “that plug into the port underneath the dashboard, but that is something that you would opt into with your insurance company. It’s something you would install yourself, and obviously you’d be aware it was there.”

Noble said AAA believes that when it comes to black boxes in vehicles being driven by New Jersey residents, “it’s okay as long as the vehicle owner’s privacy is protected and data is being collected and used in the way it was intended.”

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