SARTA Boss Questions Impact of Mandatory Black Boxes

SARTA Boss Questions Impact of Mandatory Black Boxes

SARTA Boss Questions Impact of Mandatory Black Boxes

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ (RACS) recently suggested that motor vehicles including trucks have mandatory black boxes fitted, to deter drivers from dangerous driving behaviour and to be able to look into road crashes when they do occur. They believe that this will help reduce the number of crashes on Australian roads, a recommendation that SARTA’s Steve Shearer says will cost a lot but deliver little.

South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive director Steve Shearer has raised concerns about the effectiveness of black boxes in heavy vehicles which he says will not deter truck drivers from speeding but will cost a lot of money which transport companies will be forced to outlay.

Although the RACS recently said the introduction of mandatory black boxes for trucks was a “no brainer”, Shearer says they are anything but. He says that the power of the black boxes to deter drivers from bad driving behaviour has been exaggerated. He explains in this excerpt from an article on industry website

“Only a small percentage (of truck drivers) might be deterred from speeding if they were being effectively monitored,” he tells ATN. “Most others only speed rarely and inadvertently.

“If they aren’t consciously doing something that they know is unsafe, you can’t deter them through monitoring.”


Shearer also highlighted a potential concern if the black boxes are introduced. He reminds us that those drivers who intentionally speed, although they are in the minority, are also the most willing to tamper with black box technology, so we wouldn’t get an accurate account of events from the black box anyway in some cases.

Shearer says the RACS’s submission to the Senate Inquiry on road safety was indicative of a stereotyped view of the transport industry which in most cases was incorrect. He highlighted the fact that in most car-truck crashes, the car was at fault not the truck driver. He explained:

“In 75 per cent of fatal car-truck accidents, it’s the motorist that is at fault, according to government studies in South Australia and federally,”


Shearer did not completely dismiss the usefulness of black box technology altogether, adding that it could be helpful for road safety bodies by providing them with comprehensive data. He did admit his apprehension at the idea of authorities being committed to properly analysing the data or introducing solutions based on the data received.

He is fearful that transport companies will be forced to fork out the cost of the black boxes without any guarantees that it is going to positively impact road safety.

He concluded by stating:

“It would only be valuable if governments did something they’ve never done before, and take a much longer-term view of road safety and the road environment,” he says.

Read more at: