Speeding kills, but even though speed limiting technology has existed for motor vehicles since the early 1900s national governments have never mandated their use. However, a new ruling by the European Parliament could result in the mandatory installation of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) in all new cars within three years.
Some cars – such as the new Ford Focus – already feature this technology, but it can be easily turned off. The proposed new rules would make sure motorists had to use ISA technology, when fitted. It is expected that the automotive industry will continue to oppose mandatory fitting and use of ISA devices and may attempt to derail the necessary additional legislation required before European Parliamentary elections in May. Negotiations between the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission will determine how the proposed regulations are implemented.
Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection voted last week to approve a range of new vehicle safety standards including automatic detection of pedestrians and cyclists, and a new direct vision standard for lorries and buses to enable drivers to have a better view of other road users around their vehicles. MEPs also voted for the installation of ISA devices on all new cars from 2022.
Many buses and trucks already feature such technology, but private motor vehicles had so far been exempt from stricter rules for “professional” drivers.
MEPs also green lighted the requirement for motor vehicles to be fitted with aviation-style “black box” Event Data Recorders, which record critical information on the status of a motor vehicle in the moments before a collision.
Executive director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) Antonio Avenoso, said:
“ This legislation represents a major step forward for road safety in Europe, and could save 25,000 lives within fifteen years of coming into force. But it will only apply to new vehicles. So it’s incredibly important that a final deal is reached as soon as possible, so cars with these new safety features fitted as standard start driving off production lines sooner rather than later.”
The U.K. government estimates that, each year, “excessive and inappropriate” speed kills 1,200 people. In surveys, motorists admit they routinely exceed 30mph speed limits on residential roads and 70mph limits on freeways. Even if the U.K. leaves the European Union, it is expected that the E.U.’s ISA rules will be adopted. The UK’s Vehicle Certification Agency has previously said that it intends to mirror E.U. rules post-Brexit. It is also unlikely that car makers will produce “speeding-allowed” vehicles for the U.K. market.
Modern speed limiters do not automatically apply brakes but cap the top speed of motor vehicles by restricting engine fuel supplies. The technology works by using a speed sign-recognition cameras and GPS-linked speed limit data.
To soften the imposition of ISA technology it is proposed that the systems would – initially, at least – include override functionality such as stepping down hard on the gas pedal. However, the internal “black box” would track such overrides, and it is possible that motor insurance companies will increasingly demand that drivers stick to speed limits and do not drive aggressively. Such technology is already available for teen drivers, but is expected to be rolled out more widely as the adoption of ISA and Event Data Recorder technology gains public acceptance.
ETSC projects director Graziella Jost said:
“ 500 people die every week on EU roads, a figure that has refused to budge for several years. And driving too fast is still the number one killer. It’s very simple: if we want to bring down the number of road deaths, we have to tackle speed effectively. Right now, the EU has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a massive difference.”
Motor vehicles factory fitted with ISA systems are already on sale – helped in part by Euro NCAP’s decision to reward extra points for vehicles that include this lifesaving technology.