Modern cars are without a doubt safer than all the past – thanks to better driving characteristics, more sophisticated construction and safety features, but above all thanks to many electronic assistance systems that cover the driver’s back and help maintain control of the car in crisis situations. Or in moments of inattention. EU statistics show that 95% of accidents are caused by human error. And with this, new and new electronic systems are supposed to help, the aim of which is to increase safety on the roads and reduce the number of deaths that occur every year.

YOU KNOW THAT…

In 2022, 20,600 people died on the roads throughout the European Union. Although this represents a 3 percent increase compared to the previous year 2021, on the other hand, compared to the pre-Covid year 2019, it is a decrease of 10%. In the Czech Republic, statistics on the number of deaths have rather stagnated in recent years, in 2021 470 people died on the roads, 454 people lost their lives the year before, and 455 last year.

The main element of the newly expanded package will be the black box, i.e. the recording device you know well from air transport. The obligation to have it on board will be for all passenger cars that carry up to eight passengers, but also for commercial vehicles of the N1 category, including vans and pick-ups with a weight of up to 3.5 tons. Its function in cars will be the same – to record data that will subsequently be used in the investigation of a possible accident.

What is it and how does it work?

But while the entire course of the flight is recorded in the plane, along with the communication between the crew and the air traffic control, in the cars the telemetry will only be recorded five seconds before the impact and 0.3 seconds after the impact. Specifically, it will be data about the speed, braking, position and turning of the car on the road and the reactions of the assistance systems, for example whether the emergency call for help eCall has been activated.

Photo: Police of the Czech Republic

In some accidents, it is not easy to find out what actually happened and who is to blame. The recording device should simplify the investigation and provide real data instead of estimates and measurements.

The system will be switched off during the entire journey (the user cannot deactivate it) and will only start when the seat belt pretensioners and airbags are activated, or when the pyrotechnic active hood is detonated (i.e. when a pedestrian is hit) or when the car’s speed changes by more than 8 km /h in 0.15 seconds (such a drastic deceleration can only occur in the event of an impact). The data will then be accessible via the diagnostic OBD connector and only to authorities involved in the investigation of the accident (primarily the police).

What is it really for?

First of all, so that it is absolutely indisputably clear how the accident happened and how the driver reacted – for example, if the person who hit you really braked and tried to avoid the accident, or was just looking at the phone and accelerating. And yes, it will also be absolutely clear what speed you were driving before the accident, i.e. especially if you violated traffic regulations and drove over the legal limit. On the other hand, the magic formula “not adjusting the speed to the technical condition of the road” already works, so nothing really changes, only the police will have hard data instead of estimates based on measurements.

The existence of this recording box should therefore help determine the reason for the accident and its culprit in the first place. So it can be a protection for careful drivers and a whip for irresponsible ones. But if the existence of a recording box in your car primarily conjures up images of a big brother watching your every move, this is not the case (it’s already in your pocket in the form of a smartphone) – the entire ride is not recorded, nor is any location or speed data sent anywhere for the purposes of fines. And it’s not at all because of the politicians of the European Parliament, cars in the USA have had similar devices for a few years and no one there is upset about it.

One system out of many

This technological innovation complements other electronic safety features that are already mandatory for newly homologated cars today. We’ve got systems that warn the driver that he’s breaking the speed limit or looking at girls instead of the road, emergency braking tries to prevent (or at least mitigate) minor bumps in city traffic, and lane monitoring warns you not to leave the road or overtake in the opposite direction. It is also obligatory to flash the warning lights during emergency braking or to alert traffic passing behind the car in the event of reversing out of a parking space. All cars must now also have an integrated interface for connecting a breathalyzer – it is not yet mandatory, but it will probably be in time, because alcohol simply does not belong behind the wheel.

However, all these systems are only supportive, and driving safety depends primarily and ultimately on the driver. So if you want to do something for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, put your phone down and focus on driving.

What do you think about mandatory black boxes in cars?

I welcome her, I drive safely.

It could be useful, but the electronics are getting to be too much.

I don’t want anything like that in my car.

A total of 16 readers voted.