The year 1984 certainly wasn’t like 1984 but perhaps 2015 we will be getting a little closer to the concept of big brother watching us all the time. Big brother won’t be in our workplaces or bedrooms but rather in our vehicles in the form of a black box. Changes to EU regulations will mean black boxes will be fitted to all new cars produced from October 2015 onwards.
The technology is called “telematics” and records drivers information about speed, how many times they undertake, how aggressive their braking is and data such as where the driver went and at what time. If this is starting to sound a little creepy then now is the time to point out that it won’t be mandatory to have a black box in your vehicle collecting data but failing to do so could mean you face sky high insurance premiums.
The technology was first developed to track cars involved in crashes however it didn’t take long for insurance companies to see the value in being able to collect data about a driver and set their insurance premium accordingly to how safe or how dangerous that driver is. If you are a safe driver that doesn’t break the rules then the introduction of black boxes should benefit you by lowering your insurance premium and therefore putting more cash in your pocket.
Privacy groups however are saying the introduction of black boxes is infringing on drivers privacy as its a matter of time before someone’s data will get compromised. Black boxes first appeared in 2003 however because of the high costs to install them they had predominantly been placed in young driver vehicles as a way of marketing cheaper insurance premiums to them.
These changes will severely affect people in different motor trades who may be faced with higher premiums on vehicles they give out as courtesy cars, rental vehicles, commercial fleet owners and car yards who offer insurance as an additional service.
A professionally installed black box currently costs £130 to install however the advent of self install devices that work in conjunction with mobile apps is driving down the prices. By 2020 the Boston Consulting Group estimated that half the cars on UK roads will be fitted with black boxes.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has also been calling for motor taxation to be calculated by telematics, which would mean taxation is aligned with a ‘user pays’ model.