A leaked directive has led to a controversial new motor safety plan becoming public knowledge, with several of the UK’s national papers covering the revelation.
The concept of ‘remote stopping’ technology is actually relatively simple: the European Union has put together a plan looking at whether or not vehicles could be installed with technology that would enable law enforcement bodies to ‘stop’ them remotely by shutting off the fuel and cutting the ignition. Essentially, it would prevent criminals of any kind making a speedy getaway but could vans and cars – such as the models available at franchises like www.jenningsmotorgroup.co.uk be stopped by technology?
The reports are apparently genuine, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that a group of senior EU officials (including several Home Office mandarins) had signed off on the new proposals.
Why is it needed?
Whether it is 100% necessary is probably up for debate. However, the EU paper’s reasoning is as follows: currently, the police have no capacity to chase down a criminal making a speedy getaway on the road, simply because they have no means with which to stop the vehicle safely. The new technology, if properly developed, would enable them to do so.
Is this new?
The idea of remote controlling car electronics isn’t what you’d call ‘new’. Indeed, as far back as 2003 the Guardian reported that police were calling for a ‘remote button’ that would enable them to stop cars. At the time, Superintendent Jim Hammond, of Sussex police, had told a European Conference that such technology was ‘fast becoming a priority’. The idea received substantial opposition, though, with many people seeing it as a bit too ‘Big Brother’.
How will it be done?
There is no official specification for the technology included within the report, so for the moment it remains likely that the idea is purely speculative. However, the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS) will be responsible for working on the idea as part of their work programme over the next six years. Other areas to be covered include automatic number plate recognition technology and intelligence sharing.
Is it really as bad as all that?
This is mainly down to the opinion of the driver. The truth is that cars have been controlled in an electronic capacity for some years now. For instance, car dealerships and loan firms have been known to equip vehicles with a black box responsible for reminding the clients of overdue payments. GPS has also been used to tell the dealership exactly where a rented car can be collected from.
Modern cars also rely on electronics in a number of technical areas, with monitors controlling ignition and flow of fuel, as well as more minor tasks such as the radio station being played.
The BBC has reported that the project is actually still in its early stages, and that at the moment the UK government has no plans to install such devices. No panic for now, then, but it will be interesting to see what the future holds in terms of the technology: the idea remains good, but whether it can be fully executed is another matter.