Michigan’s Oakland County has started using “black box” technology to monitor whether some repeat offenders are driving safely, reports the Detroit News. It’s the same technology some parents use to keep tabs on their teenagers’ driving habits. The program is one of the first in the country to use black boxes, which track everything from how fast a car goes to whether it takes corners too sharply. A 2003 Detroit News investigation found that drivers with long track records of defying the law are involved in one of every six fatal wrecks in Michigan and had killed more than 1,800 people over eight years.
President Larry Selditz of Road Safety, the California company that makes the devices, said it may be the first time a court has ordered drivers to use them. So far, 14 defendants have had the devices installed in their cars. The black box tracks how fast a car accelerates and how hard drivers slam on the brakes. It records whether the drivers go around a corner too fast. The devices ultimately will be outfitted so they can be tracked by satellite. All of that information is retrieved every month and sent to the driver’s probation officer. “It’s not like Big Brother; it’s a sentence that’s trying to do the right thing, the appropriate thing to guarantee the community’s safety,” said Judge Brian MacKenzie.