The European Union could soon force car manufacturers to fit their vehicles with a range of features aimed at increasing safety, including automatic speed limiters and black box-like surveillance.

Such a move could also have an effect on cars sold here in Australia, as our “type approval” standards generally mean we get a very similar product when it comes to European cars like Mercedes or Volkswagon.

Changes to vehicle safety in Europe are set to force car makers to fit a number of features in every new vehicle manufactured, including speed assistance, connection points for alcohol interlock devices, driver drowsiness monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and data recording which would note just about every detail of a trip, including speed.

Some of the features, such as automatic braking and an emergency signal which strobes the brake lights if they’re slammed on, seem like a welcome addition to any new vehicle, but some worry the monitoring is a step too far and could have an impact on things like policing and insurance.

In terms of speed control, the idea is that the accelerator pedal would provide haptic feedback when the driver is exceeding the speed limit but can be overridden by simply pressing down harder. Here’s the thing, though, your decision to do that will be recorded. There will be data stored that says you have actively chosen to speed.

“It’s the data logger that concerns me most,” Drive Nation journalist, Andrew Frankel writes. “Combined with the sat nav information that determines the speed limit of any given road, your car will retain every detail of your every journey, and you don’t need to be an Orwell scholar to spot something disturbingly Big Brother about that.”

These changes are expected to be introduced to all new European cars in three years from now, but it’s not known whether similar features will be required here in the same way anytime soon. According to ANCAP chief executive, James Goodwin, the process could take years to implement, he told News.com.au.

“In the interim, the voluntary fitment of these technologies is already increasing quickly through ANCAP’s consumer and market influence, with many of these features already required in order to score a high ANCAP safety rating — whether it be a passenger car, SUV, van or light commercial vehicle.”

There are a lot of unknowns, particularly when it comes to privacy. Who gets to access a car’s data? Is it safe to have locational data stored in such a way? All eyes will be on the EU and how this all pans out over the next few years.

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