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EU vehicles could soon have accident ‘black boxes’

All new vehicles in the European Union could soon be equipped with “black boxes” that record journey data that could be used in the event of an accident, in the same style as aeroplane flight recorders.

The measure could be introduced to help collect information, to determine the causes of any accident, and to help reduce future incidents. If the measure is passed, new vehicles would be required to have the journey recorder installed by 2022.

Older vehicles would be given until 2024 to have the technology installed.

In a statement, the European Parliament said: “All vehicles would be equipped with a data recorder that would record critical data relative to accidents, several seconds before they happen. They will give crucial information for analysis, and [help contribute] to the reduction of accidents.”

Parliament is still debating how much data and which information should be collected by the machines, with options including sound, imagery, driving data, and vehicle movement.

Already, private vehicles are permitted to have “dashcams” - dashboard cameras - installed to record what is happening on the road, but they are not obligatory. Some also record sound. Newspaper Le Figaro found that 370,000 such dashcams were bought in France in 2015.

This is not the first time that the subject of installing obligatory cameras into private vehicles has come up for discussion in France.

In 2013, road security council le Conseil National de Sécurité Routière (CNSR) launched a study into the idea, suggesting the installation of cameras that would capture relevant data up to 30 seconds before an accident occurred.

The technology is reminiscent of that already used in all commercial aeroplanes, in which “black boxes” record all of the flight information, as well as sound and conversations from the cockpit.

The name “black box” is somewhat of a misnomer, however, as most of them are actually brightly coloured, to enable them to be found more easily after an accident.

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