EU wants black boxes in autos

The EU is considering making aircraft-style black boxes mandatory in all automobiles to improve safety.

A £2.4 million, three-year study carried out for the European Commission by German car parts group Continental concluded that drivers with the black boxes were 10 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident, and had lower repair bills.

The Event Data Recorders (EDRs) would record a range of data including speed, direction and whether the brakes were used. They would be triggered by sudden braking or the deployment of an airbag, and would capture the data for a short period before and after a crash. The information could be used by police and insurers to reconstruct crashes.

While black boxes are now fitted as standard in most new cars in the US, they are rarer in Europe.

Privacy campaigners are concerned about the proposals, but the EU says there would be no compulsion involved, and it would be up to individual countries to decide whether to make them mandatory.