A little birdie with very big wings told me some fascinating stuff about the Toyota recall crisis recently. It was in direct response to what I wrote in the mag this week about Toyota having to fit black box data recorders to its roads cars “to protect itself in court against its own customers.”
According to my source this is not, and never will be, the reason why Toyota fits data recorders to its cars. Toyota, says the source (and you can probably guess which Japanese car company he works for), has and never will do anything to actively protect itself against its customers.
In reality, in fact, it’s the other way round, which is why the data stored on Toyota’s black boxes is encoded and can only be read by Toyota’s engineers - ie, not by the authorities – not unless they demand to see the data in Congress, which is unlikely to happen when arguing over a speeding fine or a bit of lairy driving, let’s face it.
There are plenty of other manufacturers who aren’t anywhere near as protective of their customers as Toyota when it comes to the storage of potentially incriminating data. There are some supercars which store all the data in the car's on-board computer and, should you get involved in a high-speed incident it wouldn’t present the authorities with any real difficulties should they decide to take a look.