From 6th July 2022, all new cars sold in the EU must be fitted with speed limiters fitted as standard. The limiters, technically known as Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) will also need to be retro fitted to any new cars currently in showrooms. The deadline for this is July 7th 2024.
Reduced Journey Times
Advocates of the ISA systems say that speed regulation will reduce average journey times due to fewer accidents and better paced traffic flows. Anyone driving on the M25 or the M6 in the traffic management zones will have experienced better paced journeys, which could be even better if drivers would stick to their lanes. One thing managed motorways has not cured is drivers’ perception that driving a yard away from the car in front in the outside lane gets you there quicker. Research also suggests that for every 1% increase in speed, there is a 4% increase in fatal crashes.
Overriding the System
The ISA can be overridden when the engine is turned on similar to the automatic engine stop-start switch which is designed to save fuel and reduce pollution when cars are stationary in traffic. It will however re-activate at the start of a new journey. The European Commission also state that the system can be “smoothly overridden” by depressing the accelerator beyond the system’s limit. How responsive this is remains to be seen. The suggestion is that if a driver accelerates harshly to complete an overtake, the system will allow the to car to go over the permitted speed for a short time before the system re-engages. I trust that they system is clever enough to know when the overtake is safely completed?
Will Speed Limiters come to the UK?
At the moment there appear to be no plans for speed limiters to be fitted to cars in the UK. Presumably cars built in the EU and imported into the UK will have the option of having ISA fitted as an optional extra? Bear in mind that large goods vehicles and buses and coaches already have basic speed limiters fitted, and many higher specification cars also have autonomous emergency braking systems as standard.
Classic government “nudge theory” would suggest that it is only a matter of time before the limiters become an optional extra fitted in the UK with the option of switching them off or overriding them. Then they become incorporated in the emergency braking system, with no option to override or turn them off. This article is being written on the day that the Welsh government have announced plans to spend £32 million on setting a 20 mph speed limit on all residential roads.
Inappropriate speed is the single biggest cause of road deaths in the UK, and all efforts to reduce the road fatality figures should be supported. But the enjoyment of driving is slowly being taken out of our hands with the advance of technology and the politicians’ insatiable appetite for interfering in peoples’ lives.