Lejeune tests "black box" for vehicles

8 Nov 2001 | Sgt. Joshua S. Higgins

When it comes to the Marine Corps' government vehicles, safety is most definitely paramount. Now with new technology, that safety that is so desired can be monitored at all times.Over the next several weeks, units here will be testing a new product called FleetWatch, a black box similar to those in most airliners.The box, made by EASE Diagnostics, is a product intended to give organizations a way of monitoring the use and misuse of its' vehicles. According to Col. Mark T. Goodman, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune Assistant Chief of Staff, Installation Security & Safety, this is an opportunity to save thousands of dollars a year and possibly many unnecessary deaths."FleetWatch will cut back on maintenance spending, which is currently estimated at $327,000 a year, by monitoring the way Marines drive, annually saving nearly 30 percent of a unit's maintenance funds," said Goodman.The device is used by plugging it into the vehicle analysis port, which is located under the dash of most automobiles made after 1996. Once this is done, it will record up to 2,800 of the most recent electronic events that take place during operation such as when and how long the vehicle is driven, the speeds at which it was driven, distance traveled, seatbelt usage, and the engines revolutions per minute. The recorded information may then be viewed by using any personal computer with a serial port and Windows 95 or higher and printed out for filing. According to Goodman, information from each box will be downloaded every few days for record purposes, or in suspected cases of misuse when required. "I've seen instances where a policeman drives too fast responding to a call and end up being in an accident himself," said Goodman. "Never does a crime or accident authorize a police officer to endanger others lives."Goodman said that although appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken on military and civilian employees who are found misusing vehicles, it is important to note that FleetWatch is primarily intended for safety. It will keep the personnel in the mind frame that the boss is always riding along with them, thus encouraging them to be more cautious. It will also protect the driver from false accusations in case of an accident.Testing FleetWatch will begin in military police vehicles, and with approval, will be migrated to all government vehicles, said Goodman.