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All new cars to have ‘black box’ data loggers under EU laws

Proposals will mandate data recorders be fitted to new cars, plus intelligent speed assistance systems that cannot be deactivated

Insurers sending black box drivers back to school

New car safety laws proposed by the European Council will require all new cars to be fitted with data recorders that will log information “such as the car's speed or the state of activation of the car's safety systems before, during and after a collision”.

If approved by the European Parliament, the proposed laws will also require all new cars to have intelligent speed assistance systems. These would automatically inform drivers of prevailing speed limits and, when used in conjunction with cruise control, would automatically adapt to the limit.

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It will not be possible “to switch off or suppress” the speed assistance system, though drivers will be able to speed by accelerating through the limiter. It will be impossible to deactivate the data logger, however, which will record, “as a minimum”:

  • • The vehicle's speed
  • • The state and rate of activation of its safety systems
  • • Any other relevant input parameters of the on-board active safety and accident avoidance systems

Recordings will be logged “before, during and after a collision”. The proposals say the data collected should only be used to “conduct accident data analysis and assess the effectiveness of specific measures taken”. Information is likely, however, to be shareable across EU countries.

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Other systems mandated by the proposals include autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assistance. While it will be possible to deactivate these systems, this will be possible “only at standstill with the parking brake engaged, by a complex sequence of actions to be carried out by the driver”.

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Driver fatigue detection, reversing sensors, rear lights that flash during emergency braking, enlarged pedestrian impact zones are also required by the proposals. Cars will also have to be fitted with pre-wiring for alcohol interlocks, allowing the easy installation of such devices in the cars of drink drivers.

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The various systems proposed by the European Commission are projected to save 25,000 lives over 16 years. Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council called the proposals’ acceptance by EU member states “a massive step forward for road safety.”

The regulations will now be put in front of the European Parliament, after which the European Council will begin negotiations with the “aim of reaching rapid agreement” early in 2019. Cars will have to have the various systems in order to pass EU type approval and be sold in the Union.

Assuming the proposals go through, once enacted, they would require any new car sold in European Union to be fitted with the mandated systems. The UK’s scheduled departure from the EU may impact member states’ ability to access data from UK cars’ loggers, but post-Brexit planning has indicated UK cars will meet the same standards as their EU counterparts, only being put through “administrative conversion of EC type-approvals into UK type-approvals” before going on sale.

Are 'black box' data recorders a good idea in cars? Let us know your thoughts below...

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