Black box for a car: what is it, and why have one?

Black boxes are quite commonly known, however, popular culture associates these more with the bright orange devices found in aircraft, rather than than the devices that are used in cars. In reality, these devices are very common in modern vehicles and are an essential tool in fleet tracking and management. Black boxes in cars are data recorders that may be physically installed or downloaded in the form of an app.

Black boxes are essentially recording devices that are designed to be extremely robust, allowing them to survive collisions and most other kinds of incidents a vehicle may be subjected to on the road. This allows them to be used to retrieve essential information that may be used as evidence after a road accident. Car black box devices have grown in popularity over recent years as insurance companies have started adopting them to offer lower insurance premiums.

In this post, the precise nature of a black box for car use and the benefits it provides will be covered.

What is a black box?

In essence, a black box is a tracking and recording device that gathers and transfers data. The specific information that is recorded will differ depending on the black box and the company, but it will continuously record the desired information until removed. That information is typically transmitted over a standard cellular network for more permanent data storage, but in the event of no cellular signal, the box will still record the information and hold on to it until it can transmit.

Black Box Car

Perhaps the most well-known feature of these devices is, of course, their durability. Black boxes have a reputation for being indestructible. This is a slight exaggeration, but they are robust enough to survive an overwhelming majority of collisions and road incidents. This trait is essential when dealing with the consequences of road collisions, as the black box will have transmitted the vehicle’s information leading up to the crash, and if the transmission was not possible, it will have the information stored and ready to access.

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What is a black box in a car?

Black boxes in cars are, in terms of the purpose they serve, exactly the same as black boxes in aircraft and other types of vehicles. The nature of car use makes the practicality of use of the device marginally different, but a black box for car use is, for all intents and purposes, the same.

Tracking on car: what black boxes record

Modern black boxes are extremely versatile when it comes to the number of things they can track. For example, a black box fitted with an accelerometer can detect harsh driving behaviours, such as accelerating too fast or braking too harshly on a regular basis. It can also record the identification information of the driver if the vehicle has a digital tachograph fitted.

Of course, the core information logged by a GPS black box includes GPS location, speed data and information directly from the vehicle’s reporting system, such as error codes, warning lights and the status of doors and seatbelts. This information can be critical in establishing blame in the event of an accident, and also in determining what happened.

On top of the things mentioned above, black units can also track things such as the following:

  • Mileage
  • Trip recordings
  • Drive times
  • Time on location
  • Fuel usage
  • Engine load
  • Engine temperature
  • Cruise control usage
  • Vehicle utility

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The benefits of a car black box

The benefits of a black box system fitted to fleet cars include:

Driver performance improvements

Drivers are essential to any fleet, but getting the best out of those drivers isn’t always easy. Furthermore, getting the best out of drivers while also instilling a work ethic that includes being responsible toward the vehicles and reducing costs to the company can be even more difficult.

This task can be made easier by addressing problems through training material rather than confronting drivers directly about their driving habits, which can sometimes result in pushback and reluctance to listen. By analysing the data collected by a black box, a company can clearly see where improvement is needed and adjust its training material and policies accordingly.

Improve fuel economy

Another beneficial side effect of improving driver performance is an improvement in fuel economy. Many of the driving habits that are considered bad from a safety perspective and, to a lesser degree, from a public relations perspective, are also bad for fuel economy.

Speeding, accelerating too fast, braking too harshly and so on. All of these things use more fuel than driving safely and sensibly. They also put additional strain on the vehicle, which, in turn, results in increased maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle. Being able to address these issues can save in company costs.

Safety and security

As mentioned above, safety is also improved by addressing some of the more problematic driving behaviours a driver might have. Ensuring that a driver drives at a sensible speed, brakes sensibly and doesn’t exceed reasonable driving hours are all things that lead to a lower risk of accidents resulting from the driver.

Additionally, if an accident does occur, it will be possible to promptly provide the driver with assistance by using the black box’s live location data. It will also be possible to get a much clearer picture of exactly what happened before and during the accident than can be ascertained from mere eyewitnesses.

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