'Big Brother' speed limiters coming to cars

European Union proposes black boxes, speed restrictors on all new cars

07 December 2018 - 09:31 By Michael Taylor
Draconian new laws could put the brakes on powerful sports cars in Europe. Picture: SUPPLIED
Draconian new laws could put the brakes on powerful sports cars in Europe. Picture: SUPPLIED

The world of Big Brother could hit car enthusiasts hard with the European Commission pushing for black boxes and active speed limiters to be fitted to all new cars.

The proposals for the systems, which will monitor speed and safety systems as well as mandating speed limiting that changes automatically with speed limits, have been sent from the European Commission to the European Parliament for debate.

The data-logging black boxes would collect and retain information “such as the car’s speed or the state of activation of the car’s safety systems before, during and after a collision,” the proposal read.

The proposal’s EC sponsors insist it will save 25,000 European lives over the next 16 years.

The proposal is already set to be opposed by the German Government’s representatives, intent on protecting both an industry with high-power automotive outfits and its high-speed autobahns.

Despite having a maximum speed limit of 130km/h, though, Italy still produces mega performance and supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati.

And even leaving the EU wouldn’t save Great Britain’s fast-car brands like McLaren, Jaguar and Aston Martin from the move as Prime Minister Theresa May has already confirmed her intention to adopt EU vehicle compliance regulations post-Brexit.

If the Parliament agrees, it could mean the slow death of high-performance cars from Europe, with the mandatory installation by manufacturers of active speed-limiting systems, which automatically adapt to each speed-limit change.

The systems would not be able to be deactivated from inside the car, nor be able to be tampered with from outside it. Such systems are already available from premium German carmakers, in particular, but they are optional for drivers to use, changing speed up and down as speed-limit signs approach.

“Speed limiting technology was last year specified on around two thirds of Ford vehicles (in Europe) for which it was available – proving popular with drivers who want to ensure they avoid incurring speeding fines," Ford of Europe’s Stefan Kappes confirmed.

For safety reasons, drivers would still be able to exceed the speed limit by accelerating past the limiter, though the action would be recorded by the black box each time.

The European Commission proposal is for the data loggers to have privacy protection, except when the information is needed to “conduct accident data analysis and assess the effectiveness of specific measures taken.”

The information will be legally shared across all EU countries, including a post-Brexit U.K.

More conventional, less intrusive and less controversial measures in the proposal include autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance systems.

The proposal also includes compulsory pre-wiring for alcohol interlocks, reversing sensors, driver-fatigue detection systems, bigger pedestrian-impact protection zones at the front of the cars and rear lights that flash under hard braking.

If the proposals pass the European Parliament, the Council will negotiate with member states to reach agreement early next year, and then all new cars will have to adopt the changes to meet type approval or they won’t be able to be sold in the EU.