Friday, 6 November 2009

Department of Transport against Event Data Recorders

The European Union is believed to be considering imposing legislation which will see all cars fitted with aeroplane style black box recorders, to help make it easier for police to identify the cause of a crash.

A recent study on behalf of the union concluded that the boxes would help improve road safety. The boxes, also known as Event Data Recorders (EDRs) record 20 types of data such as vehicle speed, direction and recent driver actions including when the brakes were last applied and whether the horn was used.
Drivers with black boxes in their cars were 10 per cent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident, and their repair bills fell by as much as 25 per cent.

However a Department for Transport spokesman told the Telegraph: “We are looking at this report on Event Data Recorders. However, the technology raises serious privacy and legal issues and
we have no plans to introduce these devices.

Privacy issues? That’s garbage. Technology which tracks a driver’s movements certainly raises privacy issues, although this doesn’t seem to bother the government when it comes to CCTV. The police already surreptitiously track driver movement through roadside CCTV, maintaining a massive database of registration numbers and driver activity. But technology which records a driver’s actions just before a crash is essentially neutral in its implications. Nor, from the legal perspective, does an EDR determine fault, which police investigators would investigate in the conventional way (witness statements, skid marks, collision damage, etc). An EDR simply provides a valuable record of such matters as a driver’s speed.

The RAC, obviously, is fretting at the prospect:

Philip Gomm, a spokesperson for the organisation, also expressed concern about the cost of introducing the boxes being levied against the drivers as "safety should not be an expensive, optional extra".