My partner has just started driving, and her insurance company have fitted a "Black Box" to her car.

My understanding of these devices is somewhat vague, as some sites suggest that they only collect information about the car if it is involved in an accident, whereas other sites seems to suggest that they are wholly obtrusive in that they collect information on where you've been, how fast you got there, how much of a boy racer you became on the journey, and the Body Mass Index of each passenger you took. (okay maybe omitting that last one, it was just for the sake of over-exaggerating how obtrusive they "might be").

Now since this is my partner's car, and therefore her policy, she tends to drive at the speed limit (religiously), although at times (such as overtaking), she may break this slightly, where necessary. Also as a new driver, her gear changes, braking and acceleration are still a little rusty and will do well with a little refinement.

As my car is currently in the shop, undergoing maintenance, I'm currently driving her car. I, unlike her, do not always stick to the speed limit, so for example if I'm in a 30 zone, my speedometer will generally state 35-40...lets be honest, where I live, I'd say about 20% of the driving population actually stick to limits. Also as I've been driving for 6 years, my gear changes, acceleration, braking and handling are much smoother than that of my partner.

With that in mind, consider the following questions:

  1. Can the EDR/Black Box detect a difference in driving style / different driver over a given period?
  2. What does the EDR/Black Box really record?

3 Answers 3


Your behaviour could affect her premium then - these black boxes typically track speed, style of driving, how harsh you are on acceleration and braking, the times of day you drive etc.

They collect this data all the time - some insurers collect data from them regularly, others only in the event of an accident - either way, if you do not stick to the driving requirements laid out in your insurance contract, you may face raised premiums, or in a worst case, no insurance cover at all!

  • 1
    Currently 13 states in the US require a warrant (legal court order signed by a judge) to retrieve black box data.
    – mikes
    Jun 27, 2013 at 0:58
  • @mikes unless you willingly put it in your car as requested by the insurance company. No different than if you consent to a search when you are pulled over. Aug 8, 2013 at 16:35

Some of them have a GPS reciever, accelerometers and a phone in them, and regularly upload data back to the insurance companies - some of the ones that have been featured on the TV in the UK come with online accounts so you can log in and see the performance data.

I've never quite worked out how they are supposed to cope with multiple drivers in the same car. Are you a named driver on her policy (in which case they must know that multiple people drive the car), or are you driving it under an extension to yours?

I wouldn't want one myself, I don't like the idea of being tracked by something that has no idea of context...

  • I quite agree, I hate the idea of information monitoring! I don't think she has put me down as a named driver on her policy, however my insurance policy allows me to drive other cars on a 3rd party basis provided that the car is insured. Jun 27, 2013 at 10:28

I would just remove it and leave it sitting in the garage hooked up to a 12v source and the insurance company will assume it is a low risk vehicle.

Also I am sure they track speed and acceleration but I doubt their systems are sophisticated enough to track the actual speed limit of the road you are on. I could be wrong since some gps systems can do this.

  • LOL, sounds like a novel idea, but pretty sure if they caught on, they would cancel your policy and ban you for life Jun 28, 2013 at 15:37
  • Can I ask where you live? I can't believe that insurance companies can actually do this without your consent. If anything you should have to consent to it for a chance to get reduced rates but not higher rates. Otherwise I would tell them where they can stick their black box.
    – Mike Saull
    Jun 28, 2013 at 15:41
  • 1
    Bedfordshire, England. When she rang up to arrange the policy, they said non of their policies come without a black box, but I think it's complete nonsense. I guarantee next years insurance will be with someone else, and will be less that her renewal quote from this company, at which point, they will likely be shoving their black box, where you're suggesting they stick it! Jun 28, 2013 at 15:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .