Oakland County judge orders black boxes in vehicles of bad drivers
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Oakland County judge orders black boxes in vehicles of bad drivers

Associated Press | August 26 2005

NOVI, Mich. (AP) -- A judge in Oakland County is using black box technology to keep an eye on drivers who repeatedly run afoul of the law.

The boxes have been installed in the vehicles of 14 defendants since 52-1 District Court Judge Brian MacKenzie created the program last year.

They track a vehicle's speed and other actions, such as acceleration rate and whether a driver slams the brakes or makes sharp turns.

The black box requirement is part of a program called Driver Rehabilitation Incorporating Vehicular Education -- or DRIVE -- and applies only to drivers who have a license and are on probation. Others in the program are required to attend group therapy, take driver training or perform community service.

"The idea is to come up with a sentence that makes the individuals coming into the program better drivers, safer drivers, improving the safety of everyone around," MacKenzie told The Detroit News for a Friday story. "And it seems to work."

MacKenzie said none of the 60 drivers sentenced under the program have returned to court or been involved in accidents; three have been cited for new traffic violations.

"It's designed to change behavior," MacKenzie told Detroit Free Press columnist Matt Helms on Thursday.

Larry Selditz, president of Road Safety, the California company that makes the boxes, said this is the first time he's heard of a court ordering drivers to use them.

DRIVE currently is used in Walled Lake, Wixom and Wolverine Lake. MacKenzie said he'd like to see it grow to include other southwest Oakland County communities.

The program targets drivers cited for reckless driving, driving with a suspended license or leaving the scene of a property-damage accident, if they have two previous crashes or several driving infractions.

The boxes emit a loud beep when a car speeds or accelerates too rapidly. They ultimately will be modified so driver actions can be tracked by satellite. Data is gathered monthly and sent to a 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," MacKenzie said. "It's not going to be in their car forever, but it's going to be there to demonstrate that they've learned to drive appropriately."


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