19 November 2013

The European Commission has announced it is considering rules for new cars to be installed with speed limiting devices, capable of ensuring drivers are forced or reminded to stay within the speed limit, in a similar way to devices already being used in heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses.

The technology to limit the speed of vehicles has been available for some time and is already used widely for certain categories of driving at work.

In terms of the law, some vehicles must be fitted with speed limiting devices. Specifically, buses, defined as passenger vehicles with more than eight passenger seats, and goods vehicles, with a maximum laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes, need to be fitted with speed limiters.

The new European proposals would require all cars to be installed with intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) technology, capable of detecting limits through cameras or satellites and automatically applying the brakes or sounding a warning. Existing vehicles could be forced to be retrofitted with the devices.

The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, has reportedly instructed British officials to fight the European plans, after he was asked for his views ahead of the formal proposals being made by the European Commission.

It seems the European proposals are also unpopular with motorists, according to recent research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). In a survey, three-quarters of drivers said they were concerned that the ISAs could compromise safety, rather than enhancing it.

Commenting on the survey, Simon Best, the Chief Executive of IAM, said, “ISAs could help to save lives but it’s clear that drivers remain dubious about the benefits of the technology. More research into the benefits would help to reassure the public that this will improve road safety.”