Toyota's 'Black Box' Could Hold Accident Clues

Toyota (TM) cars have a "black box". Although it's not as sophisticated as those used in airplanes, it does record data about a car's performance and activity. The box is officially called an "event data recorder" and according to The Wall Street Journal," It records vehicle and engine speeds as well as brake, accelerator and throttle positions and other data that can help determine the causes of accidents."In the name of transparency, and after the recall of over eight million of its cars and some 2010 versions of its hybrid Prius, it would be reasonable to assume that Toyota would want to let the public know what the data from its device has revealed, but so far, they have not said much. Similar devices found in cars made by U.S. companies can be analyzed by third parties, but Toyota's "black box" data can only be retrieved by Toyota.

Toyota's reluctance to provide data from its recorder adds another layer of concern about the company's cars. It's not clear whether the No.1 auto company in the world has shared information from its tracking system with any of the government auto authorities in the countries where the carmaker has recalled cars, and it is not clear if Toyota will ever share the data with its customers or the broader public.

Toyota is faced with more than recalls at this point. It is not clear whether software in Toyota vehicles is a cause of brake or accelerator problems, although Toyota claims software has nothing to do with the flaws behind the recalls. And it's not clear why Toyota waited so long to recall some models that it may have known had mechanical issues. This question will be at the heart of a growing number of liability suits against the firm.

Toyota has kept quiet about what is in the "black boxes," but it's certain that government safety bodies and plaintiff's attorneys will find out. And if the car company is hiding information, it will only go further to undermine its reputation.
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