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F1 cars to get accident recorders

THE FIA World Council has decreed that all F1 cars must in future be fitted with an accident data recorder "black box". These will be used to quickly establish the cause of a crash. The information will be added to a database of F1 accidents since 1985 which the FIA has created in an effort to avoid similar crashes in the future.

The "black boxes" are the latest in a series of safety innovations proposed by the FIA Advisory Experts Group, which was set up after the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994. The AEG consists of FIA officials, an F1 engineer (Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite) and an F1 driver (Gerhard Berger). It is headed by F1's medical delegate Professor Sidney Watkins.

The AEG has already introduced an impressive number of changes aimed at reducing injuries in F1 accidents. It developed an accident-simulation computer program which has speeded up crash research enormously, enabling the FIA to introduce new seat belt, head rest and cockpit shape regulations. The program is now being used in airbag research. Another study into rear impacts has led to new impact-absorbing structures being part of the rear of the car in 1997.

The AEG has also commissioned research projects into laser rear lights, software to identify dangerous corners and the effectiveness of gravel beds and tire barriers.

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