All new cars could have black boxes fitted to monitor speed and even slow them down

Controversial new EU proposals call for all new cars to have black box devices fitted by law.

black box device inside car

Drivers could soon be forced to drive cars fitted with a range of tracking features under new proposals from the EU.

All new cars built within the European Union could soon be required to be fitted with black box devices that monitor and track driving behaviour.

The new safety proposals have been put forward by the European Council and have suggested that all new cars are fitted with systems to track their speed, and log which safety systems were activated or not when a car crash occured.

Other proposals put forward include fitting speed assistance systems that can adjust the speed of a car if it is driven above the speed limit, and support of in-car breathalyser technology.

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Black box – or telematics – devices are already widely used, particularly by young drivers, as part of specialist insurance policies that can reduce the cost of car insurance premiums based on how safely they drive.

If these proposals are approved, black boxes could be a legal requirement for all new cars and used to “conduct data analysis and assess the effectiveness of specific measures taken’ before, during and after a collision”.

As well as recording a vehicle’s speed, the black box would also record what safety systems were in used at the time of the accident and how effective the collision-avoidance systems were.

Motorists would be unable to turn off the tracking devices, and the data collected on their driving habits would be available to be shared and analysed across European countries.

There is currently no date for for the controversial proposals to be considered by EU legislators, but the European Council said the aim was to reach a “rapid agreement” which could potentially be early next year.

The proposals have been backed by transport safety groups, who suggested the move could significantly reduce fatality rates on Europe’s roads.

Austria’s minister for transport, infrastructure and technology, Norbert Hofer, said:

“We must never let up in our efforts to make our roads safer for everyone.

“These new rules, which reflect the latest technical developments, will protect and help save lives.”

The European Commission claims a raft of new safety requirements for passenger vehicles could save up to 25,000 lives over a 16 year period.

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council said the decision would be a “massive step forward for road safety”.

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As well as requiring new cars to have black box tracking technology as standard, new card could also have to be fitted with speed-assistance technology.

This would not only inform drivers of the speed limit of the road they are driving on, but can also automatically slow the car down to make sure it stays within the limit.

Other safety systems that could become a legal requirement in the EU for new cars include autonomous emergency braking systems, lane-keeping assistance and driver fatigue detection – which are already becoming increasingly popular across the new breed of technology-packed new cars.

New cars would also need to have a certain level of ‘pedestrian impact’ protection as standard.

The UK road safety charity, Brake, has welcomed the EU’s proposals. Joshua Harris, director of communications at Brake, said:

“Member states have played their part, backing the mandatory fitting of vehicle technologies which will make roads safer for everyone for generations to come.

“Now it’s the European Parliament’s turn to step up and make this vision a reality.

“Road safety has stagnated in the UK in recent years, but the rollout of lifesaving vehicle technologies, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and Intelligent Speed Assistance, can deliver the next-step change in safety improvement.

“The UK government must seize this opportunity and continue its support of these vital measures, regardless of the Brexit outcome.

“There is huge public backing for action to improve the safety of vehicles, and it is imperative that both the EU and UK government support these measures and help make our roads safer for all.”

While it is unclear how the rules will affect cars made in the UK, many experts expect that UK-built vehicles will meet the same standards as those manufactured across Europe.

The changes are likely to increase the price of new cars, with manufacturers passing on the higher cost of fittinging the additional technology to customers.

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