Road safety: a black box in our cars


Theelectronics are being introduced everywhere in modern automobiles, the software of which can already be, in expert hands, being talked about. But it will be even easier with the black box, the principle of which, voted on in 2019 by the European Parliament as part of provisions aimed at improving road safety, is coming to an end. The measure, applicable to new cars circulating in Europe, came into force on 1er May 2022.

All new cars are equipped with this device which records a certain amount of driving data. Initially, those that precede an accident or collision by 30 seconds will be recorded. Speed, acceleration or braking, the use of a seat belt or even GPS coordinates, the strength of the collision and the speed of the engine will be stored in the pre-accident phase.

On the model of the black boxes of the planes that, in theory, allow to clarify the circumstances of the aerial disasters, their automobile counterparts, much simpler – at least of entrance -, could contribute to shed light on the real circumstances of the disasters. an accident. And certainly put the speeding back in place, too easily brandished so far as an explanation for any accident.

For mei Vincent Julé-Parade, a lawyer specializing in personal injury law and the defense of road victims, will be able to hold drivers accountable, aware that a Big Brother is monitoring their actions, but also speed up compensation for victims of road accidents. traffic accidents.

For him, “the systematic installation of private vehicles with a black box is a measure that will help to better follow the risk behaviors and driving failures at the origin of an accident. Undoubtedly, the presence of black boxes will avoid endless debates about the precise circumstances of an accident, sometimes at the origin of a paralysis of the process of compensation of the victim ”.

The example of air disputes

An idealized view of litigation, because air transport has shown that, despite the sophistication of flight data recordings, their divergent interpretation by experts often exposes them to endless legal and technical battles. The Rio de Janeiro-Paris accident that took place 13 years ago has not yet known its epilogue and the company as the manufacturer of the aircraft, sued by the families of the passengers, will not appear until 10 October and through December. this year.

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Therefore, we must be careful not to say that electronics and sensors will be able to tell the truth quickly in all disasters. An argument also raised by user associations who rightly fear misappropriation of the black box mission over time. Who can say that data will only be analyzed in the event of an accident? A police requisition under, for example, an ongoing investigation could, in fact, give investigators access to the recorded data.

And it can start with an interception in the absence of radar, the recordings on board allow to identify the speed practiced just before by the driver. It remains to be seen whether this data will be automatically deleted over time or whether a memory buffer – or even a recording on GSM and GPS networks combined – can be viewed long after the events on the servers.

There is, therefore, a grain to grind for the CNIL (National Commission on Informatics and Freedoms) with this European initiative, which, however, is based on a pious desire. First and foremost, it’s about holding drivers accountable for their actions and gestures, as they feel permanently tracked by their black box. To escape, there will surely be jammers or neutralizers offered by dark web hackers, which will be within reach of little computer geniuses with an isolated black box.

This will be much less with the Renault solution, which aims to dispense with and use the various electronic elements scattered in their vehicles to gather the necessary information. Undoubtedly almost inviolable, this system will not represent, according to the manufacturer, any additional cost for the customer, who will have to bear, with the classic black box, one hundred euros of investment. This amount, in turn, will be paid for used cars from 2024 when they change hands. In other words, it is a very strong incentive to buy or maintain a “car before”, which will not help to rejuvenate the French car fleet.

Holy bread for insurers

The ones who will probably benefit are the insurers, who have a 20% reduction in claims, and as a result, some are already considering requesting payment for part of the equipment. But they are already accustomed to playing over time on many thorny issues, and technology, instead of clarifying things, runs the risk of making them more complex by neglecting great judgment criteria. If the driver was using a telephone at the time, if he was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or narcotics, for example, this is not negligible.

“If, in the event of a collision, this device makes it possible to determine whether the driver was driving too fast, was wearing the turn signals or was not wearing a seat belt, he is not in a position to know the causes of an accident. whether it is linked to the location, the weather or the risk behavior of a third party: priority cut, stop signal not respected, excessive speed … Filming the road would allow, in this case, recontextualize to determine the circumstances accurate from an accident thanks to objective testimony, says Pascal Chevalier, European sales director for Nextbase, the market leader in on-board cameras.

And it will certainly be necessary, in order to justify his good faith in front of the black box, to produce the images of this camera that visually testify to the circumstances of the accident. Erected as a miraculous solution, the black box will damage the sensibilities of some, who are already considered excessively hunted in all their actions. Free will is not well regarded when it comes to road safety and it has long been the state that decides what is good for us. More than ever, the only way to escape is to drive in an old car, which is certainly full of sensations, but less safe and more polluting.


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