All new vehicles sold across Europe are to be equipped with speed-limiting technology that automatically stops drivers from exceeding the speed limit, under EU vehicle safety rules. The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that the change will also apply to the UK despite Brexit.
The executive director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), Antonio Avenso, believes the device could be one of the biggest leaps forward in road safety in half a century, could reduce collisions by 30 per cent and save up to 25,000 lives in the next 15 years.
The speed limiter device – named the intelligent speed assistance (ISA) – uses GPS-linked speed limit data and road sign recognition cameras to detect the speed limits where the car is travelling. If the vehicle is exceeding the speed limit, the device will sound a warning and automatically slow the car down. The ETSC explained:
“ISA systems do not automatically apply the brakes, but simply limit engine power preventing the vehicle from accelerating past the current speed limit unless overridden.”
Drivers can override the device by pushing hard on the accelerator, reassuring some motoring groups that argued speeding up could be safe in situations such as overtaking. The ETSC called for cars to have an on/off switch for the ISA, although the device will automatically become active each time the vehicle is restarted.
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The ISA is part of a range of safety measures expected to be made mandatory from 2022. These include automated emergency braking, lane departure detection, driver fatigue and distraction warnings, and improved visibility for lorry drivers to see vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians.
All measures need to be ratified by the European parliament, which is likely to be by September 2019. After being approved by the European Commission, the ISA could be fitted to all new cars within just three years and pre-existing models to comply by 2024.
Some models from Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Volvo already have the ISA technology fitted. Volvo has also announced it will limit the speed of all its new cars to 112 mph by 2020.
Director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, Joshua Harris, commented:
“These lifesaving measures come at a vital time, with road safety in a concerning period of stagnation with more than 70 people still being killed or seriously injured on British roads every day.”
The charity discovered that speeding is a contributory factor for around a quarter of all fatal crashes in the UK. In 2017, there were 322 deaths on British roads caused by vehicles exceeding the speed limit or travelling too fast for certain conditions.
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