Irish Examiner view: Drive for car safety features accelerates

Move towards automatic braking and anti-tailgate technology
Irish Examiner view: Drive for car safety features accelerates

Anti-tailgate technology is another safety feature. 

Where next for car controls was the question we posed back in February in the context of EU-wide discussions about the introduction of a continental digital driving licence as part of the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure Project.

We were worried then that it might presage monitoring devices in the family car as part of the drive to make motoring greener, and more efficient.

Numerous commercial apps — they’re known as telematics or black box insurance — already exist and can be used to measure your driving safety and to gain a more advantageous quote from a broker or company.

Among the points audited are how quickly you brake and how fast you drive.

So far, so compliant, although it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to foresee other circumstances in which your driving is measured for reasons unconnected to safety. Lockdown restrictions perhaps, or a fuel crisis requiring rationing? Or failure to play your part in meeting emissions targets?

The lateral thinking abilities of government advisers and strategists, as we saw during the pandemic, knows no bounds and the right to personal freedom from scrutiny can come a poor second to what they perceive as the greater good.

Another example of this is the fact that anti-tailgate technology will be installed in most private vehicles from next month to meet an EU ruling.

The safety features — they automatically slow or stop a vehicle if the driver does not respond to the threat of a collision — is compulsory on all new cars in the North and continental Europe from July 6.

Britain is likely to follow suit despite a dislike of “nanny state” legislation, particularly when it emanates from Brussels.

Tailgating is a menace on our roads and is an act of bullying which can force motorists to drive at a speed beyond their comfort zone.

The implementation of what is known as automatic emergency braking is likely to save lives and prevent injuries. Around 15% of new models currently deploy the technology which uses radar and cameras to identify, and act upon, hazards unless the driver responds to an alarm.

Some experts say it could make the most significant impact on motoring safety since the introduction of compulsory seat belts.

Other proposed EU measures include speed limiters although these can currently be overridden. Nevertheless, the direction of travel is clear.

The scope for individual discretion and judgement is decreasing and the potential for external monitoring is increasing. Within two decades we shall be very close to that vision of low power, low emission, driverless vehicles.

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