YOUNG motorists could see their cars being fitted with “black boxes” and their insurance costs go up if the recommendations of police chiefs are listened to.
The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (Asps) have called for the widespread installation of cruise control systems and in-built restrictors to be fitted to vehicles.
According to Asps the safety measures would force drivers to control their vehicles under national speed limit – such as driving at 28mph in a 30mph zone.
A pilot project to have the monitoring devices fitted in the cars of under-25s is currently underway following new devolved powers that allows the Scottish Parliament to set its own speed restrictions.
The data collected by the black boxes, similar to the kind of devices used in aircraft, would then be analysed and interpreted by insurance companies to see how safe the driver is and their premiums could then be changed depending on the findings.
Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, president of Asps, said: “For people like salesmen, if all cars had cruise control it would be easier to drive within limits.
“Some companies already fit black boxes for young drivers to monitor how fast they drive and how sharply they brake.
“Your insurance premiums are then related to the findings in the black box.”
He said that black boxes were just an added safety measure in a bid to reduce the number of deaths with 2,000 being killed on UK roads last year.
Kathleen Braidwood, road safety officer at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, described the plan as “the way forward”.
She said: “It gives a second-by-second account looking at all aspects of a person’s driving. It records appropriate length of speed, calmness of drive, braking, acceleration and gives an overall score.
“It would be really good to see it rolled out more widely. It’s the way forward to encourage better driving, safer driving and more informed attitudes.”
But car manufacturers insist that accident prevention has always been a top priority and cars nowadays are “safer than ever”.
A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “Enhancing vehicle safety and reducing emissions are key priorities for the industry and investment in safety technology has contributed to a 70% decline in the number of annual deaths on British roads since the 70mph speed limit was introduced in 1965.
“Today, vehicles are safer than ever, developed to meet a range of driving conditions and driver styles.”
But the Scottish Government say that despite falling fatality numbers, more still needs to be done in order to improve road safety.
Yet the police chief’s plea of the installation of speed restrictors and black box recorders cannot be granted straight away.
Any matters involving vehicle specification would have to come through the EU and not the Scottish Parliament.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Despite the fact Scotland recently recorded lowest road casualty figures since records began, one death on our roads is a death too many.
“Our co-ordinated approach is based on education, engineering and enforcement combined with targeted safety campaigns and demanding targets.
“The national debate on the safety of young drivers publication highlighted the potential for speed limiting technology and black box data recorders to improve road safety, and we are about to fund an innovative new pilot project to assess the potential road safety benefits of black box technology to young drivers at work.”